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Cost-of-living Support:

Whose Problem Is It Anyway?

By Fourth|Sep 29, 2022|4:37 pm BST

At a time when financial wellbeing support is needed most, new research by our partner Wagestream has found that employees are struggling to make the connection that their employer is often best placed to support them.

The cost-of-living crisis has contributed to a staggering increase in financial stress. Close to all UK employees (96%) have seen their living costs rise and, as a result, over 70% now worry more about money – as frequently as once a week. Three quarters (76%) of those worrying more have seen their mental health decline.

As a result, 7 in 10 (71%) of employers have sharpened their focus on the financial wellbeing of their people. Yet a significant number of employees have resigned themselves to the daunting prospect of having to navigate these challenging times alone.

‘It’s none of my business’ business’

Most of us can probably think of a time when we’ve attempted to comfort a friend-in-need and listened patiently as they ignore or reject our offers of support with cries of ‘this is my problem,’ ‘I shouldn’t be burdening you with this.’ It could be that the same effect is happening here. It’s clear that too many employees are uncertain about the role of their employer.

Wagestream’s report identified that well over half (57%) of those surveyed said their employer could not help with the cost-of-living crisis. The main reason for this was not a belief that their employer was too busy doing other things, nor a sense that their employer lacked an understanding about what help they needed. Rather, 46% of people responded – one might imagine somewhat wearily – by saying ‘it’s not their job to help.’

The effect of financial worry is unique to an individual, but many who experience it can fall into an isolating trap of shaming themselves into silent suffering. Over three-quarters (76%) of employees who have suffered issues like stress and worsening mental health in the last few months due to rising costs have not yet approached their employer for support.

Why this is an employer’s problem

Every industry remains people-oriented, particularly those with key workers. The effectiveness, focus and wellbeing of your people is frequently deemed one of the biggest factors influencing organisational success.

If the economic climate is making financial stress more prevalent in the workplace it won’t take long for negative trends around productivity, performance, absenteeism and presenteeism start to emerge.

Tackling the issue as an employer and treating it as your job to do so helps your people to be the best employees they can be.

It’s interesting to note that when employees do notice new support they strongly approve. Wagestream’s report found that they were up to 5.4 times more likely to say their employer cares about their financial wellbeing if their employer had brought in new support in the last three months, compared to those employees who said their employers had done nothing.

Worried about financial wellbeing at your organisation?

Today, the squeeze of rising costs and widespread financial stress is having a negative impact on your workforce and, in turn, your ability to recruit, retain and sustain happy staff.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director EMEA, Fourth says “Given the impending recession and staggering cost of living, employers need to be aware of the uphill battle that employees are facing and help provide support, where possible, to ensure greater financial wellbeing and a strong sense of job security.

Our own research indicates 62% of retail employees want earned wage access due to cost of living increases, yet only 15% have access to their wages as they earn them. Modern workforce management technology provides earned wage access and positively impacts all employee touchpoints from optimising shift scheduling to enhancing labour forecasting. This ensures the workforce is engaged, efficient, and – importantly – supported.”

Fourth partners with Wagestream to make it easier for employers to implement our award-winning financial wellbeing app and give their employees access to flexible, fairer financial tools and services built around their pay – with no change to payroll.

For more information about the key issues affecting your staff and the critical need to put measures in place, read the full report here.

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