We’re all aware from the news and our own personal experiences that the cost of living has increased. Whether it’s the weekly food shop, utility prices or fuel for the car, we are all impacted in different ways.
Knowing the care that internal communicators have for their colleagues, how can we help during this time when we’re all feeling the pinch. The latest research from the StepChange Debt Charity, published in January 2022, estimates that 4.4 million people struggling to keep up with household bills and credit commitments borrowed £13 billion to pay bills and make it through to payday. It’s worrying times!
In response to a question posted on Twitter, All Things IC Communication Consultant Dan Holden shares some thoughts from the comms community on how we might help.
Supporting colleagues during times of financial hardship
We spotted a Tweet from Phill Griffin @PhillGriffinIC asking the comms community what they’ve been doing to help colleagues. It’s not the first post we’ve seen on social media about this topic and I hope the following resources from myself and others in the community help.
Team Teal have been swapping their own tips with each other via our Teams chat this morning, including comparing supermarket prices and discussing the merits of cashback cards.
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Dust off your benefits promotions
Many organisations have a good range of benefits available to colleagues. From discounts at retailers through to childcare support, many of us can forget about the everyday discounts available. I’ve found that the more effective campaign is to highlight scenarios on the actual savings colleagues can make. Perhaps ask a colleague to use a discount scheme and report back how much they saved on their food shop. That way, colleagues can relate more as there’s fact behind the benefits rather than a generic message.
Opportunities for financial support and advice
Debt can be an uncomfortable subject for many. Have a chat with your HR colleagues to see if there are any services available through your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to help colleagues. You might want to explain in a bit more detail what colleagues can expect when they call the service so it removes a bit of the worry about making that first phone call. Many EAP providers are happy to provide a demo so this could be something worth arranging with a group of line managers, colleague forums or even a recording for your intranet.
If you haven’t got an EAP service, you could create an area on your intranet perhaps with links to credible resources and charities. I’ve included some links at the end of this article you might find useful.
Ask if there is anything the organisation can do
Sometimes we overlook the obvious – ask. Encourage conversations between line managers and their teams about what support or ideas they have to help. It could be that there’s a need to pay expenses more frequently, perhaps reduce the time in the office to cut down the travel costs or that the canteen prices are so expensive, it’s cheaper to grab a supermarket meal deal.
Rather than putting everything onto managers though, provide them with the means of feeding back, perhaps through a central mailbox or document so that it can be reviewed by the relevant stakeholders. You might be surprised at some of the things that turn up! Remember though, it’s about what we can do to support colleagues, it’s not a money-saving exercise for the organisation!
Internal support services
There is often a wealth of knowledge in organisations that goes untapped. With the HMRC allowing tax relief for those colleagues working from home, perhaps your finance team can run sessions, virtually or in person, to help colleagues complete the relevant forms. It can be off-putting for some when it comes to taxes so having a friendly face to help can make a big difference.
You might want to also explore running additional sessions such as budget planning, where colleagues from your Finance team provide some easy-to-use templates and can run through scenarios to help.
Do keep in mind that the team aren’t always financial advisors so signpost to relevant financial advice services. If you don’t have a team available to help, your EAP service will likely offer this support on 1-2-1 basis.
Share regular tips
There is a lot of noise at the moment on social media from companies pushing you to ‘click here to save X’ or ‘click here for a better deal’. We have a key role to play in terms of providing credible and safe advice. I’d recommend researching credible resources that provide tips and advice for colleagues.
My go-to place (having worked there previously) is the Consumers’ Association Which?. They provide a range of free advice including articles on everyday money-saving tips. They also have free newsletters that you could sign-up for and then share and signpost snippets from on your internal channels.
Create your own sale and wants
Just last week, I listed an old bicycle for sale on Facebook Marketplace and what an experience that was! I ended up with scams coming into my inbox and other unwanted messages.
You could explore creating an area on the intranet or your social channels where colleagues feel safe posting items they are selling or looking to buy.
It’s a great way to link into any sustainability work your organisation is doing, especially around reducing, reusing and recycling.
Look after each other
I can’t emphasise enough the importance of looking after each other during these challenging times. The last two years have been incredibly tough on us all and now we’re coming up against financial worries.
Have a conversation with your HR colleagues’ and look at the wellbeing support and signposting you can provide. Whether it’s regular drop-in sessions (virtually or in-person) with members of the HR team, upskilling managers in having conversations on wellbeing matters or encouraging your senior leaders to share their concerns on everyday matters. It’s about making it human and personable.
We’d love to hear about the ways your supporting colleagues. Do share them in the comments below or feel free to respond to Phill’s Tweet to keep the conversation going.
- Communicating benefits to help staff with the cost of living – HR Zone – thank you Advita Patel for highlighting this story.
- Cost of living crisis: what can businesses do to help employees – Personnel today.
- Cash strapped – by Martin Flegg.
- Cost of living support for members – Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)
- Supporting employees with the cost of living – Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD).
Advice and support services
Post author: Dan Holden.
First published on the All Things IC blog 22 June 2022. Updated 25 August 2022.