The holidays are over, it’s cold and there’s a cost of living crisis unfolding - a case of the January blues is a very real possibility for many.
In this tough economic climate, it’s never been more important to acknowledge the circumstances facing different groups of employees, and provide organisation support where possible.
The cost of money anxiety
1 in 4 people say money worries affect their ability to do their job, and in the current economic climate, this will disproportionately be true of more junior staff and those on lower incomes. Those with parent and care-giving responsibilities may also feel the pinch more than most, even if their salary is higher on face value.
Stress and preoccupation with finances can greatly affect the mental health and wellbeing of employees, which has a knock on effect on productivity and motivation at work.
Financial inequality at work can also affect a sense of inclusion and morale within an organisation. Comments about money and lifestyle from higher earners may feel insensitive and offensive to others, and an expectation to socialise out of work - and pay for things like travel and drinks- may feel unaffordable and anxiety-inducing.
What can you do to support your teams?
Employers who show a genuine effort to support the financial wellbeing of their people will make a huge difference - particularly in relation to morale and sense of belonging in their workplace.
Here are a few key things to consider implementing in your organisation:
1. A financial wellbeing policy
At an organisation level, the CIPD recommends implementing a financial wellbeing policy as part of a holistic wellbeing strategy. This should include basic things (which don’t necessarily cost an organisation additional money), such as:
- Informing people where they can get free confidential and independent money and debt advice e.g. from the government’s Money and Pensions Service
- Refreshing on your organisation’s current benefits and signposting to any support you offer.
- Encouraging employees to normalise conversations about money worries at work, and acknowledging the existence of difficult financial circumstances to help break down stigma.
2. Day to day support
There are also smaller, day to day things that will make an immediate difference to employee wellbeing.
Consider sending out comms and articles acknowledging the tough economic times many will be facing, showing empathy and compassion. Feeling understood by an employer is a key part of employees feeling valued at work.
Messaging could also include a reminder to managers to be sensitive to different financial situations - encouraging events or socials that do not require employees to spend their own money e.g. free events in the office.
You could also go a step further by organising in-person coffee mornings, perhaps via ERGs to support specific groups. Use these occasions to give employees a space to discuss any needs or questions they have, normalise conversations around finance and signpost them to relevant support in your organisation. Inviting financial experts and advisers to drop in sessions could also be really valued by employees.
3. Offering tangible financial support
It may not be possible for all organisations to allocate budget to increased financial support but if it is, there are various initiatives and benefits to consider:
- Offering staff interest free loans. This could be a general purpose loan or for specific things like travel season tickets. This can be a great way to meaningfully support your people without being too costly.
- Increasing or introducing childcare vouchers
- Providing free breakfast or lunch - this also shows a commitment to wellbeing at work and may mean coming into the office feels more attractive to employees.
- For lower income roles, signing up to the Living Wage Foundation and ensuring the National Living Wage is paid at a minimum.
However you choose to support your people through these difficult times, transparency, compassion and proactively will be key when it comes to money matters.
Organisations who get it right will be able to foster a much more inclusive environment, where people of all income and seniority levels can get on with their work with a reduced anxiety about the financial climate.
Looking for support with your inclusion goals? Get in touch with InChorus to find out how we can support you.