Employee Benefits

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Mind logo and time to talk day 2022 graphic

Five steps to make mental health conversations easier

Time to talk is a day to highlight the idea, the need and the knowledge of holding conversations about mental health. It aims to bring together friends, family, community and workplaces to break the taboo around mental health.

Everyone has mental health, good and bad. Naturally, we tend to only think about poor mental health. Like physical health, mental health can fluctuate due to many reasons. So placed in a stressful situation, your mental health will suffer.

Time to talk removes the stigma of discussing mental health by promoting proven, easy to follow guidelines on starting a discussion on the subject.

Five steps to make mental health conversations easier

Time to talk is a day to highlight the idea, the need and the knowledge of holding conversations about mental health. It aims to bring together friends, family, community and workplaces to break the taboo around mental health.

Everyone has mental health, good and bad. Naturally, we tend to only think about poor mental health. Like physical health, mental health can fluctuate due to many reasons. So placed in a stressful situation, your mental health will suffer.

Time to talk removes the stigma of discussing mental health by promoting proven, easy to follow guidelines on starting a discussion on the subject.

Five steps to make mental health conversations easier

1. Create a time and space for a conversation about mental health. A window of about 10 minutes is often enough. Remember that if you’re in a public area (e.g. an office) be wary of people listening in. A great tip is to talk side by side to avoid the feeling of confrontation.

2. How to ask questions: Ask open questions that start with “What” or “How” will often get the speaker to open up about what is troubling them. Avoid starting conversions with “why”; this is because the responder will often have to pause to think before answering. Be non-judgemental; probably easier said than done, the risk of being judged is often why people bottle things up. Remember to listen to the answer and not just think about what to say next.

3. Don’t try to fix the issue: It’s difficult when a friend or loved one is upset and not want to fix it. However, similar to physical injury, the road to recovery is longer than a 10-minute conversation. Some mental health issues may need professional intervention and, as with severe physical damage, the road to recovery may take some time. Knowing that you are there for them is often enough.

4. Treat them the same: The person you started the conversation with is the same person at the end of the conversation. What you know about your friend has changed, not the person. If you want to support them, continue to do the things you usually do.

5. Patience is vital: You may know someone has an issue; however, they may not be ready to share with you or be prepared to acknowledge that there’s even a problem. Sometimes being there is enough, and you’ve made it easier for them to open up when they’re ready.

Employee Assistance Programme

A professional employee assistance programme (EAP) helps you raise the standard of mental healthcare in your workplace. When stress comes too much to bear, other areas of employees lives are often affected. At work, this may take the form of job performance, presenteeism (being at work when the employee is too sick to work) or absenteeism.

When this stress becomes too much to bear, an employee assistance program can go a long way in making whatever an employee is struggling with outside – or even inside – the workplace becomes more manageable.

Choosing an EAP package that works for you can be a daunting process. At My Staff Shop, we take care of your EAP as part of a comprehensive employee reward package.

Discover more here.

My Staff Shop will make a difference to your colleagues. For a free demonstration or to answer any question, please get in touch.

Image of young couple reviewing their finances

Four reasons why the cost of living is about to rise

2022 has arrived the great news that coronavirus seems to be under control. However, this news has been buried under the wait for the Sue Gray report, the crisis in Ukraine and the news cost of living is about to rise steeply.

Four reasons why has the cost of living is about to rise?

National Insurance Rises

The health & social care levy, 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance contributions from 12% to 13.5%, will be deducted from pay-packets in April. The increase aims to raise £12 billion, initially for the NHS, and then to cover the rising costs of social care.

Travel Costs

As workers return to the office, they’re likely to be hit with a hike in fuel prices. The rise is a surge in wholesale oil prices and a weaker pound. The average diesel price is now a record £1.50, and there is no change in the foreseeable future for that will see the prices drop.

In addition to rises in motoring costs, rail fares will to rise by 3.8% in March.

Energy Bills

Similarly to diesel costs, worldwide prices and a weaker pound have meant that wholesale fuel costs have risen for energy suppliers in the UK.

The weight of the rises have not been felt by the majority of UK household as the energy price cap is still in force. The price cap ends in April to coincidence with the national insurance rise.

Runaway Inflation

The Treasury and Bank of England annual inflation target of 2% annually has already been shattered. In December, inflation stood at 5.4%, from November’s 5.1%, the steepest rise in 30 years. Inflation may yet to rise to 7% when the energy price cap ends.

Employers will feel affected by the Cost of Living rises.

Studies by Barclays estimate that for every £1 million an organisation spends on payroll, it loses 4% of productivity due to poor employee financial well-being. As the cost of living crisis affects more and more families, the loss percentage is likely to increase.

Employee benefits are a cost-effective way to supplement your employees’ wages. They offer an easy way to enhance the workplace culture, business objectives, and are often tax-efficient.

My Staff Shop will make a difference to your colleagues. For a free demonstration or to answer any question, please get in touch.

image of many using laptop to receive financial education

Workforce Financial Education: A guide to understanding demographic different needs

Understanding different demographic needs

For most, personal finance is a complex subject to understand and be engaged with, despite knowing how important it is. For organisations, it is paramount to engage with employees about finance because poor personal finances often lead to poor workplace performance.

A quick reminder of what negative impacts on the workplace occurs when colleagues suffer financial stress:

These statistics are pre-covid; however, a recent survey showed that 43% of adults in the UK reported that their mental health had worsened since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. This damage will be intensified now that the government’s financial buffers have ended.

Financial Education: One size doesn’t fit all

Your message must be relevant to maximise the level of engagement of your employees.

However, the one size fits all approach to financial education doesn’t work: the variety of different age groups, salary size and education levels within your organisation means a multi-stream path is best (This also can apply to employee benefits as a whole).

Whilst individual finances are unique; it is true to say that the different demographics are the best place to start, because, despite the variety of salary & education disparity, each demographic faces similar financial challenges.

This week we breakdown the different financial education needs for each group.

Financial Education: Employees Aged 18-25

There is a lot of learning on the job, and basic financial skills would allow employees to concentrate fully on the job. 1 in 6 workers under the age of 25 has admitted to defaulting on credit.

Using your employee benefits is a great way to make salaries go further and to introduce the subject.

Financial Education: Late 20s to mid-40s

With the increase in responsibility, education should ensure adequate income protection against adverse financial life events, saving for a rainy day and making retirement provisions.

Only 28% of working-aged people have some form of financial resilience through savings and life cover, the knowledge gap cuts across economic and education divisions.

Financial Education: Women & Primary Carers Pay gap

A special mention also to women who take career breaks to have a family. Women often lose out because:

In summary, a break in earning and saving to raise a family is often where the pay equality gap begins.

Financial Education: Late 40s onward

Employees in their late 40s onwards need to maximise their retirement provision, secure an income for later life and handle unexpected life events such as the early onset of ill health/ disability, redundancy, or the death of a partner.

Older people are much less likely to find work again following redundancy. Disability and poor health are preventing nearly half a million people, who are approaching retirement, from working.

Financial Education: Close to retirement

There is little in the way of financial education. However, pension provision becomes of critical importance. Accessing information online about the financial choices that are open can be a barrier.

Financial wellness with this age group can be tied in with basic IT skills, allowing greater control of their finances.

How can Employee Benefits Assist your employees finances?

Employee benefits will help responsible employers assist their workforce in several ways:

My Staff Shop will make a difference to your colleagues. For a free demonstration or to answer any question, please get in touch.

Image of young execs looking at laptop

Evidence that financial planning improves work performance

We need to talk about financial planning.

Employers are reluctant to discuss financial planning with their employees, and with good reason. The feeling that you’re opening a can of worms in terms of pay is an eternal worry. However, financial challenges that your employees face have a direct correlation with their performance when they’re at work.

Employees who receive financial education from their employers are altruistic.

In essence, employees are more productive when they feel secure financially. Subconsciously, employees do expect employers to take care of them financially. Employers who are not engaging their employees’ financial education are perceived as less caring. In contrast, employers argue, “I pay salary, income tax & NI calculated and opt-in pensions with 4% employer contribution. I already do all this for them, isn’t that enough?”

The answer seems to be no! Of particular concern to employers is the proven link between personal financial issues, poor productivity and absenteeism in the workplace. Studies by Barclays estimate that for every £1 million an organisation spends on payroll, it loses 4% of productivity due to poor employee financial well-being.

Five startling facts to consider:

Education is the key to improving employees’ finances.

If you asked your employees how to improve their finances, the apparent reply is “to pay higher salaries”. It’s worth bearing in mind that poor money management cuts across the class divide. While the lower-paid workers typically have more deficient finances, this is more often due to proportionally higher living costs. The startling statistic is that as many as 28% of employees have a buffer equal to 3 months of salary saved. How many of your better-paid staff could honestly say that they have three months of salary saved?

So if the salary isn’t the first metric to look at when looking at financial pressures, what are? The age demographic of your employee. In general, each age group has a set of financial touchpoints which will be irrelevant to other age groups.

Next week we look at the various challenges each age group faces with their financial planning.

Before you go

Employees that use the My Staff Shop platform have constantly reinforced messages about saving money on everyday purchases. There is lots of free, targeted information regarding personal investing and using platform savings into longer-term investments. We enable your employees to improve their short, mid and long term financial health. In addition, there is also a free 15-minute consultation with a qualified IFA for those looking for more in-depth advice.

For a free demonstration and to answer your questions please get in touch!

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