Employers concerned about cost of living for staff
Nine out of ten (92%) employers are concerned about how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting their employees, according to our survey conducted on 27 October 2022.
All of our members surveyed (100%) believe that employers are worried about how the cost-of-living is affecting employees’ mental health. Respondents believe the impact on financial wellbeing is the second area of most concern (91%) for employers. Additionally, due to the cost-of-living crisis, the social wellbeing of staff is believed to be a concern for 56% of employers, and physical wellbeing for 35% of employers.
If we think back to the financial crisis of 2008, mental health was barely on the radar of employers: home and work life were entirely separate entities and few employers would have provided any support, nor would employees have expected it. Roll on a decade or so and it is really positive to see employers recognising the impact that the rising cost of living is having on their staff.
The figures paint a very striking picture of how the cost of living adds to the mental load of employees. By demonstrating their genuine concern and providing practical help, employers have a real opportunity to engage with their staff, many of whom may not have fully understood or utilised their employee benefits before.
Employers looking to increase benefits
Ninety-three percent of respondents believe employers are looking to increase benefits or offer additional support to help employees during the cost-of-living crisis, but the research also highlights the possibility of employers’ lack of awareness about the relevant support available within group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness).
Only 12% strongly agree that employers know about the specific support for mental health embedded within group risk benefits, such as counselling for financial stress, and building resilience, etc.
Similarly, only 5% strongly agree that employers know about the specific support for financial health embedded within group risk benefits, such as budgeting and debt counselling, etc.
Offering such support will not only help employees individually but it will also mean a happier and healthier workforce who will be more productive as they are not distracted by personal matters or be absent due to stress and ill health caused by financial strain. However, it’s vital that employers are aware of the support that exists, quite possibly within benefits they already offer.
There are a wealth of benefits included within group risk benefits that can provide support to huge numbers of employees. Many employers don’t know they are there and don’t realise they are free to access, so they don’t communicate this support to their staff.
It's an honourable intention to consider increasing benefits or funding additional support to help employees at this time but employers will also find additional help and support that they don’t need to pay an extra penny for, if they utilise all the support available in their existing employee benefits, and particularly within group risk benefits. After all, employers are not immune from the current economic climate either with costs skyrocketing in many areas: group risk benefits may be one cost centre that doesn’t need to be increased.
Katharine Moxham is the spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), a position she’s held exclusively since May 2009. Katharine regularly contributes to industry and business publications and debate and has actively raised the profile of the group risk industry with the media and business organisations.
Prior to joining GRiD, she...