Research published by Lancaster University has revealed that only 40 percent (2 in 5) of businesses have been helping staff with living costs since the start of 2022.
The data, which was compiled by the university’s Work Foundation thinktank, questioned more than 1,000 UK business leaders. It found that nearly 66 percent of those leaders acknowledged that they had a role to play in supporting their staff, despite under half of businesses adopting measures to help their employees.
Meanwhile, less than half of the employers that had delivered additional financial support for their staff made ‘above standard incremental increases in pay.’
In a wide-ranging analysis, the report also highlights work undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), which revealed that 2021 saw 2.5 million workers take time off to due to financial wellbeing issues.
To combat these problems, “Shifting Sands: Employer Responsibility During the Cost of Living Crisis” recommends a number of initiatives, including a renewed focus on contractual security for workers in insecure jobs who are likely to miss out on key benefits such as sickness and holiday pay.
The report also argues for a ‘strategic approach to financial wellbeing,’ with priority given to embedding up to date financial information, advice and support about financial matters in company support packages, as well as removing the stigma surrounding financial wellbeing.
The report comes against a background of tough economic conditions, with many commentators predicting that further interest rate rises are likely. Wages rose in the 3 months leading up to February, but the current headline rate of inflation stands at 10.1 percent, meaning that real terms pay fell by 2.3 percent over the same period.
Although fuel prices have fallen, workers are feeling the pinch in shops and supermarkets, where food prices are rising at their fastest rate for 45 years.
However, the chief economist for the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Grant Fitzner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the ONS was does not forecast double digit inflation to last for another month, despite current food prices.
The Workers Union Says…
Underpinning the moral duty to pay workers a fair wage, should be the idea that financially stable, mentally healthy staff are more productive than demoralised, worried and anxious staff. The stats from the CEBR in Lancaster’s report confirm that there is a corrosive link between absenteeism and financial worries. It is therefore imperative that more company chiefs engage with these issues at a time of when many of their staff are experiencing unprecedented levels of financial stress.