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How to support low income employees

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A total of 42% of all Ben’s support cases in 2017 were people with money problems, in comparison with mental health at 31%, physical health at 17% and social health at 10%.

Of these financial health-related support cases, ‘low income’ accounted for 52% and other key concerns for people last year were ‘debt’ and ‘money management’.

Supporting those on low income needs to go further than just increasing pay. Employers who take wider action and make some simple but considered changes can create a more stable workforce. Improving staff retention and engagement – often low among workforces on lower incomes – can improve productivity and business efficiency. Plus, you can help your staff and colleagues to better support their families and reduce work-related stress.

Job security

In 2017 The Office of National Statistics found that there were 1.4 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours.  This places stress on workers who can’t guarantee an income to support their family.

The Beyond Pay inquiry by Business in the Community identified that employers could help improve job security by monitoring their use of zero-hour contracts and ensuring that they’re only used when demand genuinely fluctuates. Regular workers may then be moved to minimum hours contracts, which offer more certainty.

Communication

Ensure that your communications channels are accessible by your entire workforce. As many lower paid jobs are not desk-based, you should find other ways to communicate than via email. For example, you could use staff notice boards to display job vacancies, post updates with payslips and announcements or set up a private Facebook group that people can access on their mobiles.

Regular face-to-face meetings with line managers are also useful for engaging with staff who have low literacy levels or a limited understanding of English. Line managers who build up a relationship with their staff are also able to provide support if they are struggling.

It’s important to give advanced notice of any changes you make to the business, especially shift patterns, and then clearly communicate why these alterations have been made.

Additionally, if you do offer staff benefits, ensure that information about them reaches the relevant people. Staff who feel secure and supported are more likely to engage and less likely to look for a role elsewhere.

Pay

Consider offering the actual Living Wage, see more information about this in our article about helping employees avoid financial challenges

Additionally, you can review whether or not employees’ payments reflect all the hours they work. This includes breaks and time spent cashing up or clearing away. If there are staff benefits with low take-up, you could also consider absorbing these into salaries.

Support

Happy, healthy employees are more able to focus on their work. Therefore, they will be more engaged and increase your productivity. Having support in place to help them if life gets tough is incredibly important.

Ben partners exclusively with the automotive industry to provide support for life to its people and their families. We partner with businesses to help them improve the health and wellbeing of their workforces, adding value to support greater employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

We work together to create a tailored programme of awareness, training and income-generating activities in support of Ben, to suit individual business needs.

For more information visit www.ben.org.uk/Ben4Business or contact ben4business@ben.org.uk.

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