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Harrison Clark Rickerbys employment team consider the importance of staff wellbeing in your organisation

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Catherine Mitchell, Partner in the Employment and Immigration team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys looks at proactive steps employers can take to promote staff wellbeing.

Strike action is currently hitting employers across the public and private sectors. The Public and Commercial Services Union, the largest union representing civil servants, claims that 40,000 civil servants are relying on food banks this winter and, just when many people are struggling to make ends meet, businesses too face spiralling costs.

The Government is not the only employer faced with retention and recruitment challenges, whether it’s nurses, teachers or civil servants complaining that their pay is not enough to meet basic needs or to keep them in the job – many businesses are having to make financial adjustments to address the rising cost of living.

Demands from staff for increased pay may be impossible to meet but creative approaches to financial pressures can alleviate employee stress, improve morale and boost retention rates.

The right support is obviously dependent on your business type and number of employees, but the following considerations are relatively low-cost and may make a significant difference to staff:

  • Review flexible working options – some staff may welcome the chance to reduce commuting costs by working from home more often, if that is feasible for your business. Compressing working hours, so that they have fewer days in the office, is another option. Others may welcome the chance of reducing their hours so that they can reduce the costs of care for dependents.

Not all of these will work for you and remember that, while employees are entitled to request a change to their hours, you are not obliged to agree if you have a clear business reason for refusing.

  • Encourage lower-cost commuting, whether by agreeing a change in start and finish times to take advantage of cheaper off-peak public transport. You could also, publicise car-share schemes, provide subsidised transport, or set up a cycle to work or electric car scheme with cost-saving benefits to you and your staff.
  • Consider an employee benefit scheme. Many of these schemes are relatively low-cost for employers but provide welcome support with essential dental and healthcare costs. Many also give access to subsidised vouchers to use in the high street, including supermarkets, with opportunities to save on food and essentials. Look for a scheme which also provides an employee assistance programme which gives confidential counselling, health & wellbeing support to employees in need.
  • Sign-posts to other external sources of support are a good option for helping staff with debt, energy costs, housing or family worries. If you don’t have a dedicated HR function, consider how your business could help staff to find the support they need, whether through providing information, access to specialist advisers or giving paid time off to seek advice.

Taking proactive steps to promote staff wellbeing is a good starting point for addressing a range of risks to your business, but there are inevitably times when more unpalatable steps may face you. Whether the pressure is such that you are considering restructuring your business and making compulsory redundancies, you want to head off pay increases or make other changes to your workforce, we can advise on the range of options, practical steps for implementation and the best ways of minimising risks.

If you would like more information please contact Catherine Mitchell, Partner in the Employment and Immigration team [email protected] 

www.hcrlaw.com

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Harrison Clark Rickerbys have offices across the UK including : Birmingham | Cambridge | Cardiff | Cheltenham | Hereford | London | Milton Keynes | Northampton | Thames Valley | Worcester | Wye Valley

Follow us on Twitter: @HCRlaw

Connect with us on LinkedIN: @Harrison Clark Rickerbys Ltd


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