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How can PR employers support employees through the cost-of-living crisis?

Annie Hayes

Tips on how to help Public Relations specialists navigate spiralling costs in a post-pandemic world. 

Media stories have been alive with the ‘cost of living’ crisis, with Public Relations specialists providing content on the real struggles the general public is feeling regarding the hike in everyday costs from fuel to food, rocketing energy bills and tax rises. ‘Eat or heat’ was a popular and memorable media strapline, illustrating just how some of the worst-affected are now impacted and the everyday choices they face. Yet, it’s not just the story that is a focus for those in the sector but it’s the impact that rising costs have on them as employees too that makes it an issue that is of great importance. 

Safeguard communication channels: It’s the armoury of the PR professional to be adept at communication but when it comes to our own finances, many employees can be sensitive around the issues. Having in place robust and discrete channels to provide support, advice and counsel is crucial for those struggling. This can be in the shape of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can provide a confidential and important source for employees to air their concerns and get advice on how to manage their finances. SMEs can also provide support, even where an EAP due to size does not exist. Knowing that there is a caring listening ear there, whether that be a formal or informal approach, is really important if we are to truly ensure that wellbeing is centre stage for the majority of employees. 

Make money work: Many middle and lower-income workers will be faced with a further strain on their finances as prices for everyday costs soar. When margins are hit then it’s important that employees are educated on how to make their money work harder for them. It’s about talking it through and, for many in the sector they will be familiar with listening to webinars, podcasts and attending courses and talks. Tips can be gathered from cutting commuting costs with remote and hybrid working, to saving real costs including train fares, parking and fuel costs. Salary sacrifice schemes are another great way of making payments direct from wages to buy anything from childcare vouchers to bicycles. Debt consolidation advice and basic literature on interest rates and financial vehicles for buying the big-ticket items including cars and holidays are all ways of helping PR professionals plan, save and pay off debts. 

Package discounts: Bundling voluntary benefit programmes strategically such as discounts with gyms and healthcare via one wellbeing portal for example can help to streamline available cost savings and make it easier for the users to pick and choose from a range or related savings. It’s important that employers check in with their demographics and understand what their employees spend their money on and how frequently. For example, if many staff are working parents, then options for savings on childcare, nurseries and family holidays may be the most appealing. 

Work together: Most employers want to genuinely champion their employer brand and protect their image as being caring, supportive and flexible. Those employers that can be innovative and creative and look at real ways to help their employees navigate spiralling costs will benefit from employee loyalty, lower absence and an improved PR profile as their employees in turn become brand ambassadors.Offering free tea and coffee and fruit at work can be an easily implemented perk that helps employees feel cared for. Development opportunities to allow employees to enjoy higher wages via promotion and further responsibilities will be particularly appreciated at these times as well as access to share options, performance related bonuses and extra shift pay. 

To talk to us about your talent attraction and retention strategy and how PRWeek can help you build and communicate your employer brand or recruitment marketing, email to book a consultation to discuss your needs.

Annie Hayes is a specialist HR, skills, careers and L&D writer with over 19 years’ experience in the sector.