Electricity, National Insurance, groceries, fuel… where do the rising costs of living end?

Stress is defined as the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. [1] It comes in many different forms, affects people in different ways, and the cause of it can vary considerably from personal and family issues to financial strain and pressure at work. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, which had a negative impact on their overall mental wellbeing.

The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be behind us, but that does not mean that people aren’t feeling the strain in more ways, as new worries come to the forefront of our minds; the biggest one being the surging costs of living and rising inflation rates. The cost of living hit a fresh 30-year high last month as energy, food, and fuel prices continued to soar. Prices surged by 5.5% in 12 months, increasing the squeeze on household budgets. Inflation is now rising faster than wages and is expected to climb above 7% this year. [2]

It goes without saying that we will all feel the strain in one way or another and must tighten the purse strings. From an employee’s perspective, they need to contend with the rising National Insurance contributions, as well as a rise in their energy bills which, with working from home, could see their bills increase by an eye-watering amount. On top of this, food prices are going up including the price of pasta by 15%, and margarine soaring by 37% [2]. For many, the minimum wage increases will not be enough to counteract this financial squeeze.

Additionally, there are the impacts on employers that also need to be considered. Around half of UK workers say that they want their employers to step up and help them deal with the cost of living crisis, as current wages do not rise in line with the surging rate of inflation [3]. However, it isn’t as simple as flicking a switch, and employers being able to grant 10% pay rises to all of their staff without seeing implications – if only that was possible…

Approximately a third of workers in the UK are expected to change jobs this year – for a small pay increase, to move to a less fragile industry or even for a significantly better total package of salary and employee benefits that can help them handle their financial worries better. This in itself is enough to have huge monetary implications for employers with the cost of recruitment soaring and the general pressure they are feeling to increase the salaries of their existing staff.

All of this pressure from external factors that are out of your control as a business means that now is a better time than ever to consider more holistic job offers that cater to the individual needs of candidates, to enable you to attract them in the highly competitive job market, and more importantly to retain them within your workforce.

This is a situation that needs to be acknowledged and addressed by all employers, who now need to have an open and honest conversation with their staff about their financial wellbeing, and how they feel about the total salary and benefits package that they currently receive. It’s certainly not easy to please all people, all of the time – but with everyone feeling the same pressures from the same events, it is fair to say that employee benefits which talk to their financial woes and help them to understand how to save money, will be gratefully received by almost anyone in any given organisation.

As an employer, have you considered the benefits you offer to your staff, and how they can be best utilised to help them through this cost of living crisis? The stress caused by money worries can have a massive impact on mental wellbeing which, if it is not dealt with, can cause sickness absence from work, and just makes the problem get even bigger.

There is help available, and there are ways to show employees that you, as an employer, truly care. There are apps and helplines available, where people can talk to an expert about any debt or cost worries that they may have, in complete confidence. Calculators and tools that can be used to see how much an employee might save on their weekly supermarket shop, should they have these discounts & perks available to them at work. Broadstone offer streamlined solutions that enable you to offer a flexible range of these benefits to staff – without breaking the employer bank either in these straitened times!

At Broadstone, we understand these things are not easy, and that there is not one solution which suits all businesses of all shapes and sizes – which is why we have a team of expert consultants who can talk you through all of the options that are available, how they work, and where they might even save you – the employer – money too. If you would like to find out more, or have an open discussion about ways in which you can begin to combat the cost of living crisis for both you as a business and your people – get in touch or click here to find out more about our flexible benefits platform.