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By Androna Benadé, Regional Manager UK & Ireland, Top Employers Institute
By Androna Benadé, Regional Manager UK & Ireland, Top Employers Institute

When Money Worries Take Over – What UK Top Employers are Doing to Support Employees With the Cost Of Living Crisis



Every year we look back and think ‘that was the hardest one yet’, but 2022 has brought about its own unique set of challenges. The economic impact of political turmoil both home and abroad is having a very real impact on the pockets of our employees, and the cost-of-living crisis is now firmly embedded.

In a landscape where people are fearful of turning on their heating, struggling to afford their commuting costs, cutting back on food spend and seeing rentals and mortgages spiral, there are very tangible things that need addressing. And the UK’s Top Employers are doing their bit to help ease some of the financial burden that their valued employees are experiencing.

It makes good sense. Employees who have to decide between feeding their families or putting on the heating as we brave the cold, is hardly conducive for productive and engaged employees. In a market that remains candidate driven, it’s important to show people they are valued and ensure that employees are looked after, this includes financially and through value.

Our most recent research shows that certified UK Top Employers already had some great initiatives in place, before the cost of living crisis even took hold. In fact, 89% of certified UK Top Employers offer Financial Education to their employees, increased from 72% in 2021; and 71% of certified UK Top Employers offer Employee Discounts on their company’s products/services, an increase from 47% in 2021.  UK Top Employers are also looking at making a real difference in the pay packet of employees and here are just a few examples of Top Employers doing just that:

Lidl

Last month, Lidl committed to an investment of £39.5m in raising hourly rates for the second time this year, making them the highest paying retailer. The raise means that at entry level, London workers will earn £11.95 (up from £11.30) and outside of London £11.90 (from £10.10). A huge 23,500 employees across their 935 stores and 13 warehouses are benefitting from the new pay rates, which represents 10-14.5% year on year. Full time colleagues will earn around £2,000 more a year, representing a significant boost to their annual income.

Oakland Care

From January 1st 2023, three months earlier than planned, Oakland Care are voluntarily raising their hourly care home team members’ pay to the Real Living Wage of at least £10.90 per hour to help support their team with the ever-increasing cost of living.

Whitbread

UK hotel and restaurant owners Whitbread have recently committed to investing £15m to raise the hourly pay of over 30,000 employees, in addition to a winter payment for support. The pay represents a 4% increase, above both the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage.  All hourly paid team members will benefit, in a move that is billed as both recognition for hard work and reassurance at a tough time.

Simon Ewins, Managing Director UK Hotels and Restaurants, said: “As a business, we have seen a strong recovery in the first half as people return to overnight leisure and business trips and we’re hot off the heels of another very busy summer where our hotel and restaurant teams have continued to deliver the outstanding guest service for which they are famous. We want to thank our guest-facing team members for their continued support.”

Ageas UK

Provider of personal insurance, Ageas UK are offering a number of supportive measures for employees. A cost of living ad-hoc payment of £1,000 is being offered to the lowest paid in the organisation, representing around 40% of the workforce. All employees will be offered an interest free loan of £2,000, payable over two years, which may help ease immediate pressures, and employees will be eligible for trading back holiday from their leave entitlement. They are also looking to offer more practical solutions such as setting up a ‘Help For Households’ campaign which includes a ‘hygiene hub’ of toiletries for people who are struggling. These items they can take for themselves and their family, and is topped up by the business and other employees. Other initiatives include an online shopping discounts platform.

Final thoughts

During a time of unprecedented inflation, increased interest rates and the cost of living spiralling out of control, we as employers have a responsibility now more than ever to support our employees.  It is great to see the initiative and lead many Top Employers are taking in this space to support their workforce. This too shall pass but until then, let’s look at what we can do to help relieve the financial burden so many are currently facing.