Many people are feeling the adverse effects of the current cost of living crisis. In the last year alone, inflation of consumer goods has risen by more than 10%, we’ve seen a 96% increase in gas prices and electricity costs have climbed by 54% as well. The reality of this situation is that a large proportion of people have little if nothing left from their wages once the essentials have been covered.
With wages not rising in line with inflation, money not going as far, and goods and services becoming more expensive, this also has an impact on well-being. 67% of UK adults are concerned about the cost-of-living crisis and nearly half say their mental health has declined because of the current economic situation.
The psychological and financial strain that so many are experiencing means that employee benefits are now more important than ever. Whilst employee benefits may not be able to fix everything, they can contribute significantly to bettering living standards for employees, reducing social inequalities, and improving mental health and overall well-being.
So, what cost of living support can employers offer in the form of employee benefits?
1 in 7 heterosexual couples has trouble conceiving, meaning that fertility treatment is necessary for them to have a child. There are also same-sex couples, single individuals and other people who can’t conceive via traditional means.
Whilst IVF and other fertility treatments are available on the NHS, there is a postcode lottery at play. Some counties abide by these guidelines whereas others offer no funded treatment. On top of this, access criteria for treatment are often a barrier to non-heterosexual couples.
This means many people have no choice but to consider expensive private fertility treatment, with one cycle of IVF costing up to £6,000 excluding the cost of medication. For some, this is out of the realm of possibility.
By providing employees with fertility benefits, you can give them access to the treatment they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise and ensure an inclusive workplace that provides equal opportunities and choices for all.
Personal finance can be confusing and hard to manage. With the increased cost of living, supporting employees with aspects such as budgeting, getting out of debt, investments, tax allowance and pensions can be incredibly beneficial.
Bespoke financial advice from a professional helps your employees feel more in control of their money. As a result, this can reduce financial stress and anxiety, and promote economic well-being throughout the workforce.
1 in 4 adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime so even if the current cost of living crisis wasn’t contributing to poor mental health across the country, mental health benefits would still be something worth adding to what you offer employees.
Promoting good mental health doesn’t just help individual employees but it also benefits the overall workforce and your business. When employees’ mental health is prioritised, it results in less employee sick time, increased productivity, and improvements in employee satisfaction.
There is a range of benefits you can implement to support employee mental health including:
- Access to counselling services (in-person and online)
- Medical appointments and assessments
- Discounted gym membership or subsidised exercise classes
- Mindfulness and relaxation tools such as apps and books
- Offering mental health days in addition to sick leave
- Resiliency training and stress management
- Flexible working arrangements
59% of households own a pet and as many have more than one animal in the household, it is estimated that there are 34 million domestic pets in the UK. Unfortunately, the rising cost of living has meant that some people are struggling to afford pet food and pay veterinary bills. This is causing a significant increase in the number of pets being rehomed or abandoned. For example, in July 2022, The Dog’s Trust received 4,370 inquiries from individuals looking to give up their dog, which is the highest number since their records began.
As an employer, you can help reduce the likelihood of your employees being faced with the tough choice of relinquishing a beloved animal companion by offering pet-centred benefits. This could include allowing employees to bring dogs into the office so that they don’t have to pay for a walker or providing pet insurance so employees have the peace of mind that they can always look after their pet’s health.
The rising cost of living is making it more difficult for some people to maintain their health. For example, buying nutrient-rich foods is harder, people are having to cancel ‘non-essential’ subscriptions such as gym memberships, and some individuals may not even be able to afford prescriptions for medication.
Employee health care is important both at an employee and company wide level. Health benefits show that a company sees well-being as important and values each employee, but good overall employee health also reduces time off and improves employee retention. Types of employee health benefits include:
- Private medical insurance for employees and their families
- Subsided exercise classes or an in-house gym for staff to use
- Free flu vaccinations
- Dental care
- Eye care including tests and optical vouchers
- Counselling and mental health services
- Occupational therapy
- Fertility benefits
A parent survey found that 1 in 4 parents said they have had to cut down on necessities such as food, heating, or clothing to afford childcare and that this rises to one in two for single parents. It’s no surprise really when parents now pay an average of over £7,000 per year for a part-time nursery place.
The rise in the cost of childcare has meant that working parents are also having to make choices about whether to stay in employment. A survey by Mumsnet and Pregnant Then Screwed found that 43% of working mothers were contemplating leaving their jobs and 40% were working fewer hours than they would like to because childcare fees were unaffordable.
Therefore, offering childcare benefits can not only ease the financial burden many parents feel but can also help attract top talent, help you retain employees and demonstrate that you are a family-focused employer.
Childcare benefits can include such things as tax-free childcare schemes, on-site nurseries, and paid parental leave.
Want to get started on supporting your employees? Apryl is the UK’s leading fertility benefits provider for employers. We can help you to roll out an inclusive programme that tackles inequalities and gives your employees the opportunity to have a thriving career and a family.
Get in touch to find out more about how you can support fertility in the workplace today.