Cost of living: how to reward your staff

Cost of living: how to reward your staff

08/03/2023

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Business Spotlights

Jo from Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors is once again sharing her words of wisdom with the Waterloo business community. This time she’s focusing on the cost of living and how businesses can reward their staff despite the tightened budgets.


With many businesses still recovering from the effects of the covid pandemic we are now in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis seen for many years with inflation at a 40-year high.  

For many employers, times remain difficult and careful decisions on budgets have become even more important.   The effects of high inflation and soaring energy costs affect not only businesses but employees too.  As a result, employers have been put under considerable pressure to increase salaries or to face the loss of good staff.  What can an employer do in these circumstances not only to retain staff but to attract new talent as well?

Many companies are reviewing and setting budgets for the next financial year.  For some, pay increases may be possible but for many, budgets are tight and in some cases and costs are looking to be cut.  For a few, pay increases may be in line with inflation, but for some employers, an increase may be below inflation or may not be viable at all.  Therefore employers are having to be creative to find ways to thank their staff and reward them without committing to an unsustainable pay increase.

So what can an employer do in these circumstances?

Offer a one-off bonus or voucher – you may want to consider paying a one-off cash bonus to staff as a way to thank them for their contributions to the business and to help them generally with the cost of living increases.  Alternatively, a cash voucher for a supermarket or online store could also be offered.  These gestures will make staff feel valued and will show some commitment to staff wellbeing.

Benefits – remind staff about the overall package you provide and remind them of all benefits in place.  Many employers will provide an annual reward statement that will set out the total package covering basic salary, bonus/commission arrangements, employer pension contributions and other benefits such as healthcare and holiday. Additional information around training costs can also be included so that an employee can be aware of any investment being made in them.  Where no benefits outside of pension and holiday are given, an employer may want to consider introducing other low-cost benefits such as access to retail discount schemes that cover a wide variety of areas – cinema, gym, health or general shopping.  Also, items such as eye care vouchers, annual flu jabs, access to online GP or access to counselling and advice on matters such as health, wellbeing and finances.

Flexible working – this may also be an attractive alternative.  Allowing staff to increase their home working and manage their home/office attendance will allow staff to save money on travel costs.  However, for some, the cost of heating a home with the current energy costs may result in staff wanting to come into the office more frequently and in the winter months this flexibility may be welcomed.

Additional holiday – you may want to consider giving a one-off extra day’s holiday to staff as a thank you for employee work and commitment over the last 12 months.  Or, you may want to offer an additional day off each year for the employee’s birthday or another event as a gesture going forwards.  

Wellbeing – many employees will be worried about their finances and this could ultimately impact their performance at work.  A cost-free way to help your staff would be to signpost them to relevant financial information including details of companies/websites that could help with basic financial information.  For some employers, this can be dealt with by way of a financial wellbeing policy.  This will demonstrate to your employees that you understand the pressures and challenges they face outside of work and that you can help them find advice and support.  You can also help staff by providing mental health support by signposting to contacts/charities who can help.  

Career development – wellbeing is not just about pay, benefits and health.  Career development is important to many staff as a way of recognising for achievements.  Increasingly staff are looking to progress within an organisation and a clearly documented career path is important to them.  Offering training can also be a good way to demonstrate investment in employees and to help you retain talented staff.  This will also be an important selling point to any prospective employees looking to join your business.  

If you have any queries or need help with providing staff with reward statements, your career development structures or your HR management generally, please contact Jo Cullen Head of Employment at Edwards Duthie Shamash for a free initial discussion – Josephine.Cullen@edslaw.co.uk or 020 8475 7401 

OR why not drop into our new 30-minute free employment clinic – the first Wednesday of each month (next one 5 April 2023) from 5 – 7 pm at the Waterloo office of Edwards Duthie Shamash, 12 Baylis Road, Waterloo, SE1 7AA.  Meet our team and find out how we can help you. 

The information contained in this article is provided for guidance. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that is specific to your particular circumstances. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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