The current cost of living crisis is now really starting to bite, with bills for energy and food rocketing and people across the UK feeling increasingly worried about how they’ll manage. So, what can employers do to help their employees at this challenging time, without losing money for the business? Here are some ideas that will really make a difference.
1. Be More Flexible
Recognise that your workforce is dealing with more stress than usual, and that flexibility can often help. Rather than sticking to rigid 9-5 hours, allow your team to work flexibly – where possible around business needs. Offer remote and hybrid working to take the pressure of commuting away when it’s not necessary, and in many cases reduce employee travel cost.
Also consider even offering a compressed week, where you pay full-time wages but for a 4-day working week. Many businesses are now offering this, recognising that the average working day has plenty of wasted time in it anyway. Compressed hours tend to focus output and lead to high performance as employees are highly motivated to finish their tasks in order to benefit from a longer weekend.
2. Dress-Down Days
Relax the dress code and organise a dress-down day each week where people can feel more comfortable and relaxed in the office. Set ground rules for clarity, but create an air of fun around the day so that everyone enjoys the bonus gesture!
3. An Open-Door Policy
Encourage people to come and speak to their managers whenever they need anything and if they are dealing with any personal problems. An open-door policy encourages honest and supportive communication and helps to create a culture where people feel included and supported.
4. Give Back
Encourage a community-giving culture so that your business helps those struggling in the community. Offer a volunteering day to your employees, support the local food bank, offer work experience… whatever it takes to show that you’re a business with a strong set of community based values. This will also build employee morale and pride in your employer brand.
5. Introduce Fun
Your team may be struggling more than usual outside of work at the moment, so look for ways to introduce some fun and lightheartedness at work. Perhaps on a Friday, people could enjoy a team social in the office with some snacks, or you could host a film evening after work or even set up a sports team league to play at lunchtime.
6. Vouchers And Freebies
Often companies get access to offers and deals from all sorts of suppliers that individuals don’t because of their buying power or supplier relationships. This could cover almost anything from local attractions to restaurants to hotels to product samples. So wherever your business gets the opportunity to leverage these things and pass these on to employees, this will be well received. Clearly you need to watch that anything given either doesn’t qualify or falls below HMRC’s threshold for ‘benefit in kind’ payments as this starts to add complexity.
Get your employees to come up with ideas and look for creative ways to bring a lively spirit into your business, which fosters that vital sense of teamwork, inclusion and enjoyment. After all, work fulfils a vital social function as well as an economic one.
These easy steps are cost-effective for businesses but they can make a huge difference to the way that your employees feel – and the way that your brand is perceived in the marketplace. Bear in mind too that a strong employer brand helps to attract top talent, so this kind of investment may help you to attract and retain high-quality people as well as build morale and well-being within your business.
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