In the UK, the price of consumer goods and services has had the sharpest increase in four decades and despite inflation slowing from 7.9% to 7.3% so far in 2023, there is still strain on employees to support their staff in the current climate. This squeeze on household budgets is leading to a dramatic shift in employee focus and firms are having to re-assess what they currently offer within their employee benefits packages to better align with their workforces’ concerns.
In a recent LinkedIn poll, we asked our network what additional support would be most appreciated in the current economic climate. Over 50% of respondents favoured more flexibility to work from home, with support towards bills sitting at just under 25%. And with domestic prices soaring, many employees are wanting hybrid working not only to improve flexibility but also to further reduce the costs of commuting into the office 5 days a week.
(Burns Sheehan, via LinkedIn)
For a lot of businesses, the focus has reverted to survival rather than growth, and a major player in this will be staff retention. Creating an attractive EVP (Employee Value Proposition) by listening to the thoughts and feelings of employees will not only support your current workforce but also help with candidate attraction when hiring freezes subdue.
Businesses are also feeling the pinch of heightened costs, and many are having to step away from more traditional financial benefits and bonuses as they scale back their expenditure. So how can you provide additional support to your employees outside of base salary? Following our poll, we reached out to our clients, candidates, and account managers to find out what is being done to support employees in the current economic climate. Here are some of the ways organisations are supporting their people financially, as well as providing flexible and healthy working practices.
Benefits around flexible working
Flexible working hours.
With minimum financial impact for businesses, introducing more flexibility around working hours can support families with childcare costs and arrangements, or reduce travel costs by enabling employees to travel to and from work during off-peak times.
Flexible working hours will also help bring in wider talent and allow commuters to live further out of the city and into more affordable living locations.
Flexible work locations.
BeautyPie now offer all employees the option of 60 days to work from anywhere worldwide, as well as flexible bank holidays so you can take off any religious day of your choosing.
Dell reported their Net Promoter Score is typically 20% higher for employees who WFH than those who don’t. And with fewer people in the office every day, Dell doesn’t need as much office space — netting the company $12 million in annual savings since 2014.
Unlimited or extended annual leave allowance.
First introduced by Netflix, many companies have increased their holiday allowance to boost morale, creativity, and productivity in the workplace.
Home office set-up payment.
Many companies offer a one-off payment of anything from £50-£1000 to employees to improve their home working set-up and ensure they’re set up to work efficiently from home.
Health & wellbeing employee benefits
Companywide mental health days.
Cybersecurity software business Sophos hosts annual companywide Mental Health Days to encourage team building, fresh perspectives and a better headspace.
At Burns Sheehan, everyone is able to take off 3 personal days in addition to their annual leave allowance. These can be booked off spontaneously and for any reason. It’s a small change that enables people to take time out for themselves when they’re not feeling ready for the day.
Access to effective and appropriate headspace platforms.
Some subscription apps include Mindspace, Remente, Mind, Pride Counselling, Better Help & Unmind.
Private healthcare insurance.
At Burns Sheehan, we’ve invested in Vitality Healthcare Insurance which gives our people access to an online GP, private healthcare, and mental health support.
What else can you do to help boost employee health & wellbeing?:
Open & transparent communication
Salary review freezes.
Choosing to invest in the long-term protection of your workforce by freezing salary or bonus reviews can help you cut costs in the short term, but it’s likely to be met with friction from your people. Communicate the reasons behind your decision and lay out a timeline for when salary increases will be re-introduced.
EdTech platform Learnerbly has chosen to freeze salaries until May 2023 but has introduced tiered cost of living payments to support employees who may need additional financial support.
Regular all-hands meetings to keep your people updated.
Transparency with your people in turgent times can help them feel more relaxed when they’re exposed to news of redundancies in the market. Keeping your people in the loop can empower them and increase loyalty and trust amongst the team.
Throughout the Covid pandemic, we held monthly All Hands meetings at Burns Sheehan. Led by our CEO Sean, everyone was updated on the short-term financial outlook of the company, as well as the pipeline of work we had coming in. Employees were kept up to date and spoken to candidly. Each session finished with a Q&A where people could ask questions anonymously to the senior leadership team.
How you treat your people during this time will be remembered. If you need to make redundancies for the survival of the business, make sure an appropriate plan is put in place with adequate support for anyone affected.
Financial support and monetary benefits
Access to professional financial support and advice.
Help your employees control their finances and improve financial literacy. Financielle and Bippit are examples of apps to help build financial knowledge and confidence.
One-off payments tiered to support lower-earning employees.
An incentive that we've seen implemented widely across the fintech sector; Monzo, Lloyds, MoneySuperMarket and Taylor Wimpey have all supported their staff with one-off payments to top-up their lowest-paid employees take home earnings.
Enabling employees to sell unused holiday allowances.
Whilst it’s important to encourage employees to use their holiday entitlement to switch off and recharge, some businesses offer the option to trade in unused holiday days for the monetary equivalent.
EoY bonuses are brought forwards with the option to take out up to £1000 before Christmas.
Interest-free loans for lowest-paid employees.
Fertility & family planning support.
With fertility issues estimated to affect 1 in 7 heterosexual couples in the UK, providing services to treat infertility could be a game changer for staff acquisition and retention.
Beauty Pie offers £2,500 to all employees who have completed 2 years of service to spend on their fertility journey.
CBRE has started an adoption assistance program, reimbursing up to $5,000 for eligible adoption-related expenses (up to $6,000 for a special-needs child).
Employers can provide vouchers to help with childcare costs.
From low-cost to big-budget, here are some additional examples of financial initiatives companies are introducing to support and retain their people:
For more insights into how businesses can attempt to mitigate the impact of current financial pressures, read Tide’s advice on how to stay resilient during the cost-of-living crisis as a business owner.
Burns Sheehan runs a series of workshops with clients who are looking to refresh or build out their Employee Value Proposition for 2023. We're here to advise if you're looking to revamp your employee benefits and build an attractive EVP. Just get in touch with your dedicated Account Manager or our Managing Director, Chris Spranklen.