HR Dept Eastbourne advises “Businesses have a unique opportunity to support their employees”
Published: 14 Oct 2022
Businesses have a unique opportunity to support their employees and improve loyalty and retention
as the cost of living crisis bites this winter.
That’s the advice from The HR Dept, whose network of human resources professionals supports more than 6,000 small business owners across the UK and Ireland.
Serena May, who represents the company in Sussex said that the likely economic hardship over the coming months presented an opportunity to create lasting bonds between businesses and their staff.
Serena suggested that investment in employee benefits and assistance programmes (EAPs) to help with mental wellbeing would pay dividends long term.
And with staff looking at the energy cost implications of working from home Serena, said that inviting employees back to the office might reignite workplace culture put on hold during the pandemic.
“Even with Government support it’s going to be a tough time for many businesses and their employees,” Serena said. “However, every cloud has a silver lining and with crisis comes opportunity.
“I would advise business owners to think carefully about the role they can play in supporting their staff during this difficult time, and of course how the employees can support the business in return.
“Both parties may find that, if they make through this period together, there is a bright future ahead based on mutual appreciation, gratitude and a common goal.
“On the part of the business owner, this support will often require investment in, for example EAPs and wellbeing perks, alongside other benefits for which there are tax breaks.
“One of the businesses served by our network has recently set up a ‘wellbeing fund’ which sees each employee allocated £500, processed as a taxable benefit in kind, to cover a wellbeing programme chosen by the employee and based on company values.
“For the business this creates a grateful, happier and healthier workforce which feels supported by its employer. That’s bound to improve productivity and retention, either in the immediate future or in the longer term.”
Serena said that a myriad of concerns affecting business likely through the winter months – inflation, ongoing strikes in the transport sector, supply chain issues and rising fuel costs – would sometimes result in necessary cost savings for businesses.
While Serena expected to see increased activity in mergers and acquisitions, restructures and redundancies, some business owners would have a role to play in looking for solutions through creativity and good dialogue.
“Just as business owners had to learn how to deal with the pandemic, times of economic hardship are opportunities to develop leadership,” Serena said. “Company owners should have an established position on requests for working from home and flexible working, perhaps considering daily hot desk spaces or, indeed, whether office rent is even affordable anymore.
“It’s a chance to innovate, to think outside the box and take the necessary steps to protect your business and the jobs you offer. And when times are better, you’ll be rewarded for thinking outside the box by staff who are more loyal, productive and in tune with your business goals and objectives. Crises like these are a chance to grow team spirit and togetherness. While some difficult decisions will need to be taken, I’d recommend thinking about the positive opportunities as well.”
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