People Risk: Phil Barton, CEO at Partners& looks at how we can support our businesses and our people through the current turbulence
I don’t know about you, but the word that keeps springing into my mind recently is “turbulence” – in politics, the markets and the environment. And with turbulence comes the natural instinct: fight or flight - to batten down the hatches and secure everything we hold dear or flee to a safer space...
There has been much in the media about how our current cost of living crisis will impact us over the cold, dark and dreary winter months ahead – and its wide-reaching impact is something employers cannot ignore. Increasing costs of overhead coupled with the threat of quiet quitting and job jumping is leading many business owners and managers with whom I speak to feel the squeeze – a pressure that is likely to be here for a good couple of years.
We need to do something, but what?
Recent research conducted by Partners&* highlights growing concerns about the financial wellbeing of employees as the cost-of-living crisis continues. Our survey of more than 160 senior Human Resources (HR), Finance, Payroll, and C-suite professionals highlights how challenging the next few months may before many employees, and by extension their employers.
The research found that 9 in every 10 employers expect a significant (52%) increase in the number of their employees experiencing financial difficulties this winter. The same survey also revealed that almost two thirds (65%) of organisations are already aware of employees who are struggling financially.
The much talked about fuel poverty is only part of the picture. Inflation on everyday essentials is squeezing household budgets ever tighter.
Of course, this is primarily a problem for employees and their families, but it is also worth remembering that financially stressed employees are likely to be more distracted and less productive than they usually would be. So, by extension, this is also a problem for employers.
Many organisations are seeking to help their workers with “one off” cost-of-living payments or above inflation pay rises. OUR research revealed that a third of employers have already made (11%), agreed to make (3%) or are considering making (19%) such a payment to support their workers through the crisis. Unfortunately, many other employers are just not in a position to make such a gesture, and 1 in 4 (25%) indicated that they could not currently afford to make a support payment.
The fact is, these payments are unlikely to be achievable and/or sustainable for many employers who are already struggling with the current economic reality.
Support the financial wellbeing of your people
One way to support your people through the crisis is to introduce a range of measures including financial education tools aimed at equipping employees with tangible and useful discount options on everyday spending, as well as providing useful knowledge and understanding to enable sensible and pragmatic financial decisions to be made, against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.
Our research suggested that around a quarter (25%) of employers already offer some financial education services, with around 3 in 10 (31%) actively considering the introduction of such services in the autumn of 2022.
The sad fact is, many employees in the UK have never benefited from any formal education around money matters, and very few workers are old enough to remember the last time inflation was at current levels.
As a result, they are struggling to respond to the particular set of economic challenges we face today.
Employers who are in tune with their people challenges, and do what they can to support them today, are likely to benefit from a more stable, engaged and productive team in the years ahead. ” - Phil Barton, CEO, Partners&
So, some basic – but informative – sessions around money management can only be beneficial. Options to consider include employee retail discount schemes, support to deliver low-cost finance solutions, and well-constructed and useful financial education sessions. Employers should also remind employees of any existing tools which may provide support – for instance, the free debt counselling services available via most good Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP).
None of the above is the complete answer to the genuine turbulence we are facing, but employers who are in tune with their people challenges, and do what they can to support workers today, are likely to benefit from a more stable, engaged and productive team in the years ahead.
Partners& recently launched its “Four steps to financial health”. *The research was undertaken at the Partners& Employment Webinar on 8 September 2022 amongst an audience of more than 160 senior Human Resources (HR), Finance, Payroll, and C-suite attendees.
A claims defensibility survey involves a comprehensive assessment of your business from the inside out.
For more information, visit www.partnersand.com
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