Two-fifths of employers have introduced cost-of-living support for staff

cost of living supportTwo-thirds (66%) of senior business leaders agree that employers have a substantial role to play in supporting staff through the rising cost of living, and 40% have introduced support measures since the start of 2022, according to research by the Work Foundation at Lancaster University.

The briefing Shifting sands: Employer responsibility during the cost-of-living crisis polled more than 1,000 senior decision-makers from British businesses, and found that among those that had introduced cost-of-living supports, 18.2% had awarded pay rises above standard incremental increases. The second most common measure was a one-off bonus or cost-of-living support payment (17.7%).

Larger organisations were more likely to have implemented support measures than smaller firms, at 49% and 32% respectively. Staff in secure employment and on higher pay were found to expect broader ranges of support beyond pay rises, whereas lower-paid workers in less secure forms of employment did not expect any support beyond pay increments.

Other examples of support included providing in-store vouchers or pre-loaded gift cards, flexibility over pay dates, independent financial planning advice and interest free loans to move away from pre-paid energy metres.

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Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said: “Employers have a crucial role in supporting their workers through the cost-of-living crisis. Even if we see inflation halve in 2023, the impact of rising prices will last long into the future, especially for those on low incomes and in insecure employment, factors which disproportionately affect women, disabled people and those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

“It’s vital that business leaders engage with their workforce to understand the challenges their employees face and put proper financial wellbeing strategies in place. Ensuring pay levels rise as close to inflation as possible is key, but if businesses find themselves unable to afford such an uplift, there are lots of other ways they can offer support.”