Bosses must cope in the crisis of the cost of living

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<p><figcaption class=Phil Worms (Image: Emily Worms)

Phil Worms is CEO of Glasgow-based Frog Systems, which provides companies and organizations with digital support for employee wellbeing

Amid the incessant media buzz about the cost-of-living crisis, skyrocketing fuel prices and conflict in Ukraine, it is easy to forget that the health and well-being of millions of people is at the center of attention.

Despite the political rhetoric of “bumps in the road” and “challenges ahead” – and amid the plausible reassurance that “we are all in this together” – it will not feel that way for millions of our fellow citizens.

The harsh reality is that between now and next spring in a supposedly prosperous and compassionate country, millions of people will be cold, hungry, suffer physically and mentally, feeling isolated and abandoned.

As individuals, we can help by donating and providing our in-kind and labor support to charities doing what they can to support and ease the financial burden on our communities.

Employers also have a responsibility to support staff with mental health issues, both by understanding their triggers and taking reasonable steps to ensure they do not worsen at work.

What can employers do to help their workforce through the coming crisis? The first rule of supporting employees, regardless of the size of an organization, is not to make promises that cannot be kept. In this time of uncertainty, a balanced approach is needed. An approach that helps employees now and at the same time builds their financial resilience for the future.

There are two basic things an employer can do to help employees deal with the financial aspect of the cost-of-living crisis: raise wages or help lower their costs.

While the first option may seem like the easiest to undertake, it is not viable for many organizations that are also feeling the impact of financial pressure. For the second option to work effectively, the employer needs to understand what the employee needs, as they will vary from person to person.

A “one size fits all” approach will not work. For example, for some who work hybrid, the cost savings of commuting may outweigh their gas and electricity expenses while working from home.

For others, the reverse will be true. Sacrifice plans can give employees quick access to things like childcare and transportation support in a cost-effective way for them and their employer.

It is assumed that every employee has a good understanding of budgeting and managing their personal finances, but this is not always the case, and it is this area that presents a real opportunity for an employer to provide support.

Overall, employers have shrugged during the Covid pandemic, and they need to do so again if we are to weather the cost of living crisis. Not only does it make business sense to have a strong, resilient, and good workforce, but it’s simply the right thing to do.

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