How many employers are helping workers out with the rising cost of living?

Survey results show 'savvy employers are stepping up' to ensure employees are supported

How many employers are helping workers out with the rising cost of living?

As Australians grapple with the rising cost of living, 89% of employers across Australia have revealed that they offered employees some form of support to help them remain afloat.

HR consulting firm Robert Half carried out a survey among 300 hiring managers across Australia to find that they had carried out the following actions:

  • Extend remote work options (57%)
  • Provide mental wellbeing support (55%)
  • Grant staff permanent pay rise (53%)
  • Give employees gifts (50%)
  • Provide one-off bonuses (49%)
  • Allow employees to access earned wages before payday (44%)
  • Allow employees to sell annual leave days (44%)
  • Subsidise employees' meals at work (44%)
  • Deliver financial management training (43%)
  • Introduce new salary sacrifice schemes (45%)
  • Offer income stream services (45%)

These measures address a variety of challenges faced by employees, such as declining morale, the growing burden of food costs, rising travel costs, and limited financial knowledge.

"With changing economic conditions, savvy employers are stepping up to address the rising cost of living to ensure employees are being supported," Andrew Brushfield, director at Robert Half, said in a media release.

These employers understand that not taking measures to support staff can be risky and result in losing talent, according to Brushfield. 

Overall, only 11% of employers said they are not extending any form of support to their staff.

"These employers run the risk of losing top talent, who might not feel supported in facing this time of financial pressures and uncertainty and may decide to find work at an organisation that will offer more comprehensive support," Robert Half said in its media release.

Benefits by size

The report also discovered that medium-sized employers are more proactive in supporting staff as more of them are "offering measures than small or large companies." Smaller employers are more likely to offer non-financial support, including:

  • Extending remote work opportunities (47%)
  • Giving gifts to increase morale (44%)
  • Subsidising employees' in-work meals (39%)

Larger businesses, on the other hand, are more likely to offer mental wellbeing support through an employee assistance programme (65%).

"Support doesn't just have to be financial, and providing counselling or mental health assistance and allowing staff to work from home can make an employee feel they are supported. Companies are being creative, focusing on a mix of wellbeing, flexibility, and other perks to help their staff enjoy a more positive working experience," Brushfield said.

Importance of financial incentives

Despite extending non-financial support to employees, Robert Half still stressed the importance of considering financial incentives that can directly assist staff.

"Salary remains a top priority for most in today's market. If no strategies are in place, companies run the risk of losing employees to businesses who recognise and are willing to take action from a financial point of view," Brushfield said.

It is also important that employers have "open conversations" with employees on what motivates them to allow new ideas on what employees need, he said.

The findings come as inflation is revealed to negatively impact the work of employees, according 71% of HR leaders in a Reward Gateway survey.

Australia's annual inflation rate recently eased to 7.4% in January, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"It is, however, the second highest annual increase since the start of the monthly CPI indicator series in September 2018, signifying ongoing high inflation," said Michelle Marquardt, ABS head of prices statistics.

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