The current and growing cost of living crisis that’s now impacting so many people across the UK could prove to be even more of a disruptor to employees than the pandemic was. According to our recent survey, over 9 in 10 workers say the cost of living crisis is as worrying or more worrying than the COVID pandemic was. This means businesses who value their people will be wanting to find ways to provide support for workers with financial worries.
As part of a Health Shield health cash plan, we offer an Employee Assistance Programme so that employees who may be experiencing difficulties that impact their mental wellbeing have support they can easily access. So, we asked our EAP partners, Health Assured, about the advice you can offer those who come asking for help and some of the ways a workplace can support employees with money worries. Here’s what they said:
Tell them to contact their energy supplier
The industry regulator Ofgem is working with energy suppliers to ensure that customers get the support they need. Ask your employees to contact their energy supplier as soon as possible if they’re worried about paying their bills. Extra help is available via repayment plans, payment breaks and support schemes.
Encourage them to plan ahead
The best way to feel more at ease with the upcoming changes is by planning and adjusting their budget to compensate. Taking the time to sit down and find ways to save some extra money can reduce feelings of anxiety and confusion about finances. Sometimes it’s hard to find this time when life is busy—but it’s worth it in the long run.
Listen with empathy
When you do engage with employees about their concerns, try to listen actively to what
they share. Active listening involves being fully present with the person without daydreaming
or thinking of what to say next. We do naturally fall into these states from time to time. So we have to consciously decide to engage with the person, stepping into their shoes and listening with empathy and understanding. Ask open questions that show your engagement with the
conversation. These questions will make the employee feel heard and understood, building the
premise for a positive conversation.
Refer them to Step Change
The charity Step Change offers free debt advice to help people get back on track. They provide a range of services and information to access free of charge to take action and overcome debt—step by step. If you direct employees there they’ll find information on debt collection, solutions, credit cards and budgeting. Plus, it’s possible to access a range of FAQs that break down complicated topics into easy-to-understand info.
Provide a space to talk
When feelings or thoughts are bottled up inside, they become heavy and hard to bear. Finances
can sometimes be a taboo topic; but don’t let your employees suffer in silence. Eventually,
these feelings and problems can bubble to the surface, and in the long run, this is often worse.
Let employees know that support is available if they are struggling and ask managers to check
in on their teams regularly. These conversations can help employees make important shifts and
release any difficult emotions they might be facing.
Are they eligible for further support?
The Government have released several measures to support the cost of living increases this year. This includes the Government scheme offering a £150 council tax rebate to help with the rising energy prices. But there are further government support measures in place to support those who need it. Ensure you’re making your employees aware of the additional support options available and signposting to them where needed.