Giving an HR helping hand to employees in financial difficulty
In today’s current climate, not a week goes by without another story focusing on the current pay squeeze or fall in the real value of workers’ wages. As the cost of living rises for many workers, those in employment may find themselves having to cut back or review their finances on a regular basis. Facing financial challenges in a personal capacity has a knock on effect on individuals’ working lives. Money worries can cause employees to be distracted and unfocused at work, causing a loss of productivity and quality. In addition, financial stress could lead to medical conditions such as depression or anxiety which may cause employees to be increasingly absent from work. The following are ways HR can offer help to employees in financial difficulty:
- Highlight the availability of employee assistance programmes or workplace support offered - most programmes will provide financial and debt advice as part of their service or may signpost the employee to appropriate resources. Talking about concerns, accessing support and knowing advice is available, may help alleviate some of the employee’s concerns and could help provide them with a solution
- Inform or remind staff about employee benefits that are on offer - this may include benefits such as childcare vouchers, company discount schemes, company perks i.e. discounts for shopping membership schemes, and any company saving schemes. A reminder of the benefits available will help employees make informed decisions about their money and, potentially, reduce their outgoings
- Provide good information about pension planning and the importance of making financial provision for the future – HR should ensure all employees are aware of their rights to opt in and out of auto-enrolment. They may also wish to request a named contact from the pension provider who staff can direct questions to
- Consider the possibility of offering short-term company loans to support the employee with a short-term financial cost - this may be in the form of a hardship loan or a loan for a particular item, for example, a season ticket loan to allow the employee to purchase a ticket that enables them to commute to work each day. Any repayment of this loan should be discussed and agreed with the employee in advance to ensure they are able to repay this in a way which doesn’t place them in further difficulty
- Provide clarity around salary payments – for example, if payment takes place on the last working day of the month but this falls on the weekend, HR could communicate to staff whether they will receive their pay before or after the weekend. This will allow the employee to plan their money around their salary payment.