How businesses can help workers through the cost of living crisis

An estimated one in six households in the UK are experiencing “serious financial difficulties” right now. That translates to 4.4 million struggling households – 1.6 million more than in late 2021.

The numbers are almost incomprehensible, and they’re thrown into even harsher relief when you read that the cost of living crisis has plunged more people into financial trouble than the pandemic.

As a hospitality business, it’s important to recognise that members of your staff will be feeling the effects of this crisis. Only those in really high-paid jobs have been able to enjoy inflation-defeating pay rises this past year. For the majority of workers, income payments just can’t keep up with the rising cost of fuel, food and consumer goods.

The mainstream numbers don’t necessarily reveal the whole truth for big sections of the population, either. A study of cities in England and Wales showed that inflation is up to 30% higher in northern English cities than in London, for example, which is down to poor insulation and higher car dependency.

This is all pretty sobering. The fact is, it’s hard to sugarcoat something as tangible and immediate as the situation we’re currently in. But let’s focus on the positives. As a hospitality business, there are things you can do to help your workers feel less stressed, and better able to cope. That’s a really good thing. Something that should be embraced wholeheartedly.

Of course, fair pay is crucial – but the very nature of a cost of living crisis is that inflation is going up much faster than is feasible for wages. So, what else can you do to help your workers get through these difficult times? Let’s take a look.

Help your workers manage their money with tools and education

Financial clarity helps us feel way more in control of our money. Hidden subscriptions, overly-expensive bills, and general daily outgoings can all be hard to keep an eye on. Which can lead to more money being spent than is necessary. Not to mention the constant, background feeling of dread that comes with wondering if we can really afford that midweek takeaway or new pair of shoes for the kids.

Studies show that poor financial literacy also leads to greater levels of stress.

With all this in mind, why not offer your workers some tools and education to help them get organised, money-wise? There are tons of great money-management apps out there, from those that help you budget to apps that spot unwanted subscriptions and tell you when you’re paying over the odds for bills. That are even apps to help you build credit, or work on an investment portfolio.

Giving your workers free or discounted access to one of these can be a good way to help them make their money go as far as possible.

Create a culture of wellbeing – show your workers you care

Worrying about money can take a serious toll on our mental health, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety. Hospitality work is already known for being highly-pressurised and stressful, so it’s more important than ever to focus on providing a safe, supportive workplace for your staff. We have an article on how hospitality businesses can look after staff wellbeing – here are a few key takeaways:

  • Create a visible culture of wellbeing – don’t treat it as an add-on
  • Make sure shifts and breaks are properly planned
  • Make sure managers regularly check-in with team members through the day
  • Create a comfortable and welcoming environment with a clearly-defined breakout area/s
  • Offer tangible wellbeing solutions, like discounted gym memberships, or access to mental health apps

Always make communication about pay crystal-clear

When money is tight, not knowing exactly when you’ll get paid and how much you’ll get paid is stressful. Especially when you have big bills to manage, or need to be able to pay for fuel to work. With this in mind, it’s really important to make sure staff have total clarity about their wages and tips. Making it super-easy for your workers to ask questions about pay (and get quick answers) is one way to achieve this. It’s also a good idea to set up a clear, easy-to-read FAQ section on your website answering all questions about wages and tips in detail.

Don’t settle for average pay

Doing anything you can to make your workers’ pay as high as possible is, naturally, the most impactful way you can help them cope financially. If you use temporary staff solutions, for example, make sure to look closely at what workers will take home at the end of a shift or placement. At Brigad, we pay hospitality staff on average 15% higher than the market average. Being discerning over the staff you connect with based on how much they get paid can make a huge difference to your own workers’ bottom line.

Point workers in the direction of organisations that can help

There are dedicated organisations and charities out there that can help hospitality staff cope with everything from mental health problems to financial worries. These organisations are set up and run by expert professionals, who will be able to give targeted advice and support to hospitality workers in times of need.

Two great organisations to know about are:

Sending out a newsletter or text to your workers with details of these could end up being a lifeline for those who are struggling.

Provide insurance for your workers to give them peace of mind

Whether you use temporary staff solutions, have full-time employees or both, making insurance part of your workers’ pay-package can help them feel more secure. At Brigad, we’ve partnered with Collective Benefits in providing all our members with public liability insurance, for example. It means there’s one less financial thing for them to worry about – no one’s immune from public liability claims and they can end up costing eye-watering sums of money. You might also think about offering workers things like temporary and permanent disability cover, so they know they and their family are covered financially in case they’re involved in an accident and can’t work, especially as self-employed workers.

It’s easy to feel downhearted and even helpless in the midst of the crisis we find ourselves in. But as a hospitality business, you do have the power to make a difference. Taking a few simple measures to help alleviate the strain for your workers might just be the difference between someone sinking, or staying afloat. Thinking about it like that – it really is a no-brainer.

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