Two in five HR professionals say their organisation has no plans to continue offering cost-of-living support for their employees, new research has found.
Around three-quarters of employers surveyed had implemented measures to help with financial concerns, including one-off payments, interest-free loans, inflation-based wage increases and financial wellbeing advice. However, 40% admitted the support could disappear despite experts suggesting the cost-of-living crisis may carry on throughout 2024.
The study of more than 200 professionals by Access People, which is part of The Access Group, took place in partnership with HR Grapevine. It found that financial wellbeing advice – such as workshops, online material and hotlines, which are now offered by more than half (52%) of those surveyed – would be likely to drop the most.
Fewer than one in five (17%) plan to continue to offer this in the coming months, which is a 35% decline. One-off payments currently offered by 24% will drop to 4%, while inflation-based pay increases will fall from 20% to just under 11%.
Charles Butterworth, MD of Access People, said: “Organisations have clearly stepped up during the cost-of-living crisis – now employees could be losing this much-needed safety net. All signs suggest the economic climate will remain challenging for some time yet, and the ongoing stress could have a detrimental effect on people’s performance at work.
“Not every organisation can offer loans and inflation-based pay rises especially when they’ve seen their own costs rise. However, it is worrying that the biggest fall is in financial wellbeing advice. As Experian’s State of Payroll report makes clear, empowering people to manage their finances is a key part of an organisation’s employee engagement strategy – helping to reduce stress and improve productivity and wellbeing.”
Butterworth highlighted that employers will actively seek out support when it’s available to them, with Access People’s data showing a 56% uplift in the number of users accessing its employee assistance programme (EAP) within its employee benefits platform in the past year.
He explained that signs were already emerging of people taking drastic steps to reduce their outgoings, and added: “Google searches from the past year suggest that the number of people thinking about opting out of their pension has risen by more than 36%. However, with the right advice, they may be able to save money in other ways, so they don’t miss out on the benefits a pension brings.
“There are further steps employers can take to reduce the financial burden on staff, from promoting benefits like employee discounts to on-demand pay, which allows them to draw down money they’ve accrued before pay day.”