Benefits and Rewards Bulletin
22 January 2015
Financial support brings mutual benefits for workforces and employers
2015 has a bleak forecast for employers managing ever tightening salary bills, alongside the expectations of employees who are dealing with a rise in the cost of living.
A report by the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that last year consumer spending in the UK grew 2% faster than inflation, despite limited growth in real wages during the same period*.
This is a real issue for HR teams as financial difficulties, including worries about debt, can have a detrimental effect on the mental wellbeing of employees, which can subsequently impact on an employee’s performance and productivity in the workplace.
In our experience this can manifest itself in mental health issues caused by financial stress, often leading to long term sickness absence. Another lesser known issue is ‘sickness presence’. This is when employees attend work despite judging their health to be such that they should have taken time off. This can lead to loss of productivity and poor performance.
We work with our clients to implement and communicate support such as:
- Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) which can provide advice or counselling in relation to personal financial difficulties
- Benevolent charities, many of which offer financial support including access to funds in times of hardship
- Workplace financial education, which is often made available when an employee purchases their home, or if their partner / spouse is made redundant
- Flexible working to help employees manage their personal time at a time of heightened stress
- Mentoring which can provide reassurance if employees feel they have "dropped the ball” at work. This can prevent a cycle of guilt in the workplace and stress at home
We are seeing a rise in costs of health and wellbeing related benefits provided in the workplace. Often we find that benefits in this area are not looked at holistically and are not communicated to employees on a regular basis. Now’s the time for HR teams within organisations to really look at benefits in this area and make the most of the support available for their employees.
Source: *Office for Budget Responsibility - Economic and fiscal outlook