How to make employees feel valued during a cost-of-living crisis

Amrit Sandhar, below, Founder of The Engagement Coach, discusses what people need in uncertain times and the role employers play in ensuring its’ workforce feels valued, even when they can’t give pay rises and also asks, is upskilling and workplace perks enough? 

In times of uncertainty like these, employees look to employers for stability and reassurance. Transparency is key here. If companies cannot commit to offering pay rises, let employees know why. Have supply chain costs increased? Have increased energy bills significantly impacted the company? Have sales dropped due to the cost-of-living? Whatever the why is, keep your employees informed and in the loop. 

Whilst salary may be the top concern among UK employees, work-life balance, mental/physical health and career growth and development all rank highly. The question then becomes, what can we do in these areas to alleviate financial stress for our employees? A one-size-fits all approach won’t work – with a diverse workforce comes diverse needs and this should be reflected in organisation’s benefit schemes. HR need to be on the ground, listening to employees needs and preferences.

For some, that may come in the form of flexible working arrangements to offset travel costs, childcare bills or improve work-life balance. Others may be looking for enhanced healthcare cover, including dental and vision insurance. Some may be focused on financial wellness, seeking financial planning assistance, access to financial advisors, or workshops to help them manage their finances effectively. And some may just be after that free gym membership!

Employees feel valued when they’ve not only been heard, but they’ve also been listened to. It’s HR’s duty to listen, understand and implement employee needs and feedback to the best of their ability.

Is a complete shift in communication and HR/employee relationships required?

HR is a balancing act between developing strategies for business growth and development (keeping senior leaders happy) and caring and advocating for employees. Sometimes these can be seen as competing goals, leaving HR in the middle. 

In times of high stress, e.g., the cost-of-living crisis, it can seem as though the scales can become unbalanced leaning more towards business goals and profit. It’s HR’s job to rebalance the scales. Employees need to feel that HR is for them. They need to feel listened to, understood and supported.

When employees are cared for and engaged, morale is higher, retention is higher and productivity skyrockets. In short, caring for your employees is not only good for them, it’s good for business.

As Founder of The Engagement Coach, Amrit Sandhar has worked with well-known UK brands to improve employee engagement and experience to improve organisational productivity. Amrit uses a data-driven approach to identify what organisations are struggling with and by working with them to create solutions that drive sustainable change