Research issued today by Towergate Health & Protection reveals that a huge 92% of employers either have increased, or are intending to increase, the support offered to employees specifically due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Increasing salary is the most common way in which employers are tackling the issues their employees are facing with the cost-of-living crisis, but there are also some more creative options and employers should ensure they are taking a well-rounded approach to tackling the issue, thus supporting all four pillars of health and wellbeing.

Ways in which employers have, or are intending to, increase support offered to employees specifically due to the cost-of-living crisis:

Increased salary     48%

Access to financial guidance, such as budgeting and debt management     43%

Private medical insurance     39%

Rewards and discounts, such as for everyday shopping, or gym     37%

Benefits that cover their salary if they’re absent long-term     35%

Cash plans to help them with everyday costs of healthcare     35%

Voluntary benefits     32%

Dental benefits     30%

 

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, says: “When employees have challenges because of the cost-of-living crisis, all areas of their health and wellbeing can be affected, not just financial, but physical, mental and social health too, so all support offered will benefit wider health and wellbeing.”

Financial wellbeing

Providing access to financial guidance such as budgeting and debt management can be an extremely effective way for employers to assist their workforce through difficult times. Poor financial health can have a direct impact on physical and mental health, such as increased stress, anxiety and poor sleep, so support here means that mental and physical health are supported too.

So benefits that cover an employee’s salary if they are absent long-term will have a wider benefit too, and 35% of employers intend to increase this support. Knowing that they do not have to worry about financial security under such circumstances can bring great peace of mind, supporting mental wellbeing.

Rewards and discounts on things like shopping and gym membership are being increased by 37% of employers – and these can make a significant difference to any employees on a budget. These also often come at no additional cost, attached to other types of employee benefits – like group critical illness, income protection and life assurance – so are an easy way for employers to provide support, with employers buying them standalone or via employee benefit platforms.

Physical health

With the cost-of-living crisis comes a whole host of worries for employees regarding how they will pay for health-related costs, whether that be routine checkups or a sudden illness, and how they will manage their finances if they are taken seriously ill: a concern which has come into sharp focus with people struggling to get appointments and treatment via the NHS.

Over a third (35%) of employers intend to increase support by offering cash plans. These pay out for routine dental, optical and physiotherapy treatments and can mean a considerable saving in total. Knowing that such medical costs are covered, can be a huge financial and mental weight lifted from the employee’s shoulders, and will also help to ensure that they maintain good health practices.

The research shows that 39% of employees are intending to increase support with private medical insurance (PMI). Supporting the health and wellbeing of employees with PMI generally means that employees are treated more quickly and return to work sooner, minimising absence. It is also a highly valued benefit and sends a very positive message about the company caring for employee wellbeing.

Debra Clark concludes: “It’s great to see so many employers looking to help their staff through the cost-of-living crisis. Taking a diverse approach will help to ensure that supporting the financial issues employees are facing will also have a positive impact on their mental, social and physical wellbeing.”