Tough Times: Take Two
How You Can Help Your Employees Cope with Rising Costs
It’s unlikely anyone would argue that the past few years have been tough on employers and employees alike. The COVID-19 pandemic took lives, shuttered businesses, created a labor shortage, caused supply chain problems, and impacted how we lived our lives.
Many organizations had to cut jobs and programs, alter policies and procedures, tighten spending, and reinvent themselves as a result. Just when it seemed like daily life was getting somewhat back to normal (whatever that is!), we’re being hit with soaring inflation and record gas prices.
According to information released June 10 by the U.S. Department of Labor, inflation rose to a 40-year high in May. That means goods and services, including such basics as food, rent and clothing, are more costly. Adding insult to injury are skyrocketing gas prices. Auto club AAA recently reported that as of June 14, the national average for a gallon of gas topped $5.
When individuals are facing a money crunch, it can start a rolling snowball of issues and pressures. Worrying about making ends meet causes stress, which can lead to health issues, absenteeism, depression and anger, among other ill side effects – all of which can roll over into the workplace. The physical and mental wellbeing of your employees ultimately impacts your organization’s performance and ability to produce, deliver and achieve goals.
So what can employers do to help team members weather these challenges?
The first step is to recognize there is an issue. That may sound like a no-brainer, but it might be tempting to turn a blind eye to the extra demands facing individuals in today’s economic climate. It’s important to take note of how the additional pressures brought on by rising costs can affect those around you. The next step should be examining ways to ease the burden.
Providing salary increases would be one way to help your employees cope. Of course, such a move is easier said than done and might not be terribly realistic for most employers. Still, if at all possible, raises should be considered part of the equation for addressing inflation woes.
An easier, less pricey tactic might be to allow more opportunities for employees to telework – if you’re not already offering this option. Working remotely cuts down on fuel consumption, while also offering employees greater flexibility and work/life balance.
You might also consider ramping up employee access to financial planning, legal assistance, mental health services and other employee benefits. If you already offer an employee assistance program, now would be a good time to further promote its benefits to your staff. If your organization is not providing such a program, consider adding one to your benefits package. According to Vantage Circle, an employee engagement firm, employee assistance programs help employees deal with problems that impact their job and put them in touch with experts who can help provide suggested solutions, thereby increasing employee engagement and productivity.
At a minimum, try to create a positive work environment for your employees, while also exploring ways to provide free or low-cost perks that could help boost employee morale and well-being during these stressful times.
While consumer prices are expected to begin falling soon, it still will take some time for all of us to recover.
Interested in joining a RoundTable to discuss this and other critical subjects that affect your business? Let’s talk.