Food prices, energy bills, mortgage rates, rent… With costs rising across the board, it is no secret that many people are struggling to stay on top of their finances in the current climate.
As an employer, financial wellbeing is one of three core areas where businesses should look to offer support through employee benefits – alongside physical health and mental wellbeing. While salary increases to keep up with inflation should be a key consideration where possible, offering a comprehensive mix of valuable, relevant employee benefits can go a long way in helping employees to improve their financial wellbeing through both immediate support and long-term peace of mind.
Choosing the right benefits mix to support employees and deliver a strong return on investment is rarely easy, with many options and schemes to choose from. Neil Fallon, COO at Eppione has outlined some of the top benefits for businesses to consider to support their workforce during the current crisis.
1. Retirement planning
Supporting employees to plan and prepare for the future can be a great way to provide financial peace of mind and increase employee loyalty. According to research cited in Investment Week, 25% of the UK workforce are forfeiting their pension contributions as they look to boost their monthly paycheque.
Where possible, businesses might consider increasing the company’s level of contribution, enabling employees to reduce their own payments while maintaining their pension. Increasing the company contribution above the statutory 3% could be a huge differentiator when attracting new recruits, while helping to retain employees and improve their financial wellbeing in both the short-term and long-term.
In addition to offering the right plan and contribution levels, providing access to educational and advisory services to help your employees understand and manage their pension plan can be hugely valuable. The options range from online educational resources to one-to-one advice from a qualified pensions adviser to help your employees become more comfortable with their retirement planning objectives and plan for the future.
2. Health & wellbeing benefits
With the NHS under significant strain, resulting in long waiting times for treatment, providing comprehensive health benefits – such as health insurance and health cash plans – can support employees to access the care they need, when they need it.
But health benefits can also help improve employees’ financial wellbeing. For those employees currently funding, or considering taking out, their own health insurance policy, funding a company plan as an employee benefit can save the workforce hundreds – if not thousands – a year.
3. Life & sickness protection
Financial wellbeing is not just about providing support in the short-term – offering protection for employees and their families in the event of sickness or death can provide peace of mind that they and their loved ones will be financially supported should the worst happen.
Income protection and critical illness cover are hugely valuable benefits to offer the workforce. Not only can they be costly to fund privately, but they provide a welcome reassurance that employees won’t be left desolate if they become seriously ill and unable to work.
Likewise, providing life cover as an employee benefit can reassure employees – particularly those with families – that their loved ones will be cared for financially if they were to pass away. However, it’s important to acknowledge that life cover may not be a priority for all employees, so offering flexibility in levels of cover can help meet everyone’s needs more closely.
4. Budget support
There are several options on the market for giving employees access to retail and hospitality discounts, including cashback on purchases and discount codes for everything from groceries to holidays. In some cases, a discount scheme may be included as part of another benefits – such as a health cash plan – so check what your business already has in place.
Additionally, companies can help ease employees’ spending by offering support for essentials through perks such as free or subsidised meals, free car parking, or contributions towards commuting costs. The options are endless, and the mix of benefits that works best will depend on the specific needs of a workforce, so businesses should consider consulting employees before making a final decision on perks.
Finally, providing financial education and wellbeing workshops can also support employees to manage their finances, create a personal budget and reduce spending.
5. Salary sacrifice schemes
When it comes to financial wellbeing, the priorities of each employee could be vastly different to each other. While those approaching retirement might be focused on pension planning, those just out of university might prioritise discounts and budgeting support. The key is to offer choice from a wide range of valuable benefits, with a platform that supports flexible benefits to let employees choose the benefits that suit them.
The right balance
So, with the UK manufacturing skills shortage showing no signs of resolving itself anytime soon, employee retention is more important than ever before. And while higher salaries will be hoped for by employees, employers can also use carefully selected flexible employee benefits to help their workforce during this current challenging economic climate.
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