All business owners will be planning steps to manage and mitigate the various knock-on impacts of the fuel crisis, rising inflation and, some expect, recession this winter. It’s going to be a challenging time for many.
However it’s not necessarily all doom and gloom. Within our field of expertise, we at The HR Dept believe the coming period will provide a unique opportunity to for business owners to support their employees and improve loyalty and retention as the cost of living crisis bites this winter.
While immediate survival may well be the priority for businesses in the most affected sectors, savvy company owners will also keep one eye on the future and how they can thrive once the crisis is over.
Indeed, we believe that the likely economic hardship over the coming months presents an opportunity to create lasting bonds between businesses and their staff. For example, investment in employee benefits and assistance programmes (EAPs) to help with mental wellbeing may well pay dividends long term.
Find out more about the benefits of an Employee Assistance Programme here:
Employee Assistance Programme, Wellbeing Support
And with staff looking at the energy cost implications of working from home, a move to invite employees back to the office may reignite workplace culture put on hold during the pandemic.
We 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, having made it through this period together, there is a bright future ahead based on mutual appreciation, gratitude and a common goal.
For example, 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.
Of course, the myriad of concerns affecting business likely through the winter months will sometimes result in necessary cost savings for businesses.
So while we expect to see increased activity in mergers and acquisitions, restructures and redundancies, some business owners will have a role to play in looking for solutions through creativity and good dialogue.
Just as with the pandemic, these times of economic hardship are opportunities to develop leadership. 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 any more.
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, we would recommend thinking about the positive opportunities as well.
For further information on how to support your employees, call the HR Dept on 0117 970 2955.