Alison Kidd: Are cost-of-living payments more effective than pay rises?

One of the most effective ways to make colleagues feel supported is by engaging in honest conversation and listening to their concerns, their needs and their thoughts. By doing so, you can identify what, as an employer, you can do to make a positive difference on employee wellbeing.

By taking this approach, we know that the rising cost of living has become a real concern for many. So, driven by our purpose of ‘making you happier about money’, we wanted to support those most affected, and are providing all colleagues earning £50,000 or less, equal to around 78% of people in the organisation, an extra £1,000 in their August salary.

We took this approach over a salary increase because we felt it was important to recognise the particular circumstances we are in and keep the payment apart from our annual colleague pay review, rather than just bringing forward the next review. We also wanted to offer something that would not be pro-rated for any colleagues working part-time.

That is not to say that we do not see the benefit of providing an uplift in wages. In January we provided colleagues with a competitive salary increase of 5% on average across the organisation.

It is not all about monetary support though. To achieve financial wellbeing, which is just as important as mental wellbeing, there is a lot of value in helping people to better manage their money. With this in mind, we have introduced various support programmes including a series of new ‘My Money’ webinars, which provide an overview of all the different aspects of financial health, including budgeting and increasing financial security.

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We also designed Virgin Money Minded to answer the most common questions colleagues might have about dealing with money. It provides helpful content on common money worries like debt, spending and saving, mortgages, renting, tax, planning for the future and looking after loved ones. This complements a range of financial wellbeing guidance programmes and additional benefits we already have in place, such as our discount scheme for a range of high street brands, including supermarkets, Virgin Tribe, which can help our colleagues to make their money go a little further.

Alison Kidd is head of reward and employee relations at Virgin Money