New research conducted by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards judge Chieu Cao, CEO of Mintago found that the majority of managers within UK businesses do not feel well equipped or comfortable in helping their staff through the cost-of-living crisis – which is needed at this time. 

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The financial wellbeing platform surveyed 762 managers within UK businesses and found that less than half (39%) of respondents said their business had a clear strategy in place for how they will help staff during the cost-of-living crisis.

Over half (57%) admitted that they feel ill-equipped to support their staff within their organisation during the cost-of-living crisis. Even more (66%) managers feel uncomfortable even getting involved in their colleagues’ financial lives. 

The research also found that less than half (46%) see it as employers’ responsibility to support staff during the cost-of-living crisis. Even fewer (35%) managers have reached out to their colleagues to see if they have any financial concerns precipitated by the cost-of-living crisis.

Mintago’s research found that the majority (66%) of managers have noticed that employees have raised more concerns about their finances this year than usual. Mixing this with the fact that the same amount doesn’t know how to manage this, shows that there is a lot that needs to be done. 

Chieu Cao, CEO of Mintago, said: “Our research raises some serious concerns. For one, too few businesses have a plan to support staff during the cost-of-living crisis. What’s more, just 46% of managers consider it their responsibility to do so. This mindset is worrying. The cost-of-living crisis is not just a consumer issue, it is an employer issue; it is businesses’ responsibility to ensure they have the practices, resources and support structures in place to protect their staff’s financial wellbeing.

“But managers will evidently need help. Money clearly remains a taboo subject in the workplace, with most managers feeling awkward discussing financial concerns with their staff. Similar numbers feel ill-equipped to help, likely lacking the resources and training required. As such, perhaps managers don’t see it as their responsibility to support their staff because they simply don’t know how to help. Business leaders ought to support managers, giving them the tools – from educational resources to financial wellbeing platforms – so they in turn can help employees.

“The cost-of-living crisis is not going anywhere any time soon. It’s likely that employees are looking for their employers to do more to support them during this crisis. Indeed, managers can play a major role in easing the pressures and stresses on their teams, but only if they have the right tools in place. Now is the time for any business without a clear strategy to evaluate what more they can do at this challenging time.” 

The cost of living crisis we are currently experiencing is set to have a huge impact on employee wellbeing both in and out of the workplace, ??with two-thirds of therapists already saying the cost of living concerns are causing a decline in people’s mental health. As people’s budgets and living expenses reach an all-time high it can lead to huge increases in stress and anxiety, which ultimately make work life a lot harder. 

So, how can businesses support their employees during this time of crisis?

Break the taboo 

Unfortunately, talking about finances is still a huge taboo in the workplace, which means employees are unlikely to discuss their salary with other colleagues, never mind their employer. Asking for what you need can always be hard, so it’s important that as an employer you lead by example. 

Open up the doors to financial conversations, and make your employees feel they can come to you about financial matters or any other matters for that sake. This doesn’t mean you’re signing up to give everybody a salary increase, but it does let your employees know you are open to the topic and that their concerns are heard. 

Introduce benefits

The quick and easy solution to this topic would be to give everyone a salary increase. But, as a business that needs to survive this crisis too, the easy option isn’t always an option. However, there are still financial benefits you can offer your employees without having to break the bank. 

Why not offer a one-off bonus to help them out – this way you’re letting employees know you have their benefit in mind, as well as being able to help them avoid some financial stress  – and with it being a one-off it shouldn’t affect your finances too much. 

Offer other benefits that could help relieve stress. For example, discounts on childcare, food vouchers, healthcare coverage, extra paid time off, and flexible salary payments. These extra benefits could help someone out massively and take another thing off their shoulders, allowing them to have less financial stress. 

Ask people what they need 

Lastly, and the most simple option is to ask your employees what they want and what they need. This will make the conversation around finances far more open and comfortable, and will efficiently let you know what you can do to help. As an employer, you’re not going to be able to solve every problem, but you may be able to help with at least one – and until you know what they are then you won’t be able to help at all.