Over the last several months, the employees we work with have started to feel the impact of rising inflation. Everything from the cost of food to gasoline to utilities are putting a financial strain on working families across the country. People are trying to keep up by working multiple jobs, borrowing money from friends and family, or even taking out costly payday loans. 

Here’s just one example of what we’ve been hearing from employees:

“I haven’t been able to pay some of my monthly bills…I work four jobs just to stay afloat. I am very stressed on a regular basis about loans to friends that need repaid because I haven’t been able to make enough.”

– An employee WorkLife served

Increased cost of living

As reported by PwC’s 2022 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, the fact that everything costs more these days is a top concern for 20% of respondents. 

Employees who are financially stressed are more likely to be looking for a new job, and are less productive at work. Unfortunately, inflation is likely to remain high. Consumer prices rose 9.1 percent year over year in June 2022, a new 41-year high, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in July. There is an even more substantial increase for basic needs like food and gas. Furthermore, affordable housing is becoming more scarce. The average housing price has increased 19.8% from last year, and average rent has increased by 3.7%. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, workers earning minimum wage can’t afford rent anywhere in the US. We are seeing this impact the clients we work with. Twenty-seven percent of the employees WorkLife served with this year reached out to us with housing concerns and 34% reached out with financial concerns. 

For frontline workers to be stable and successful at work, they need to be free from the stress and health implications that stem from financial insecurity. However, many U.S. households aren’t able to afford an unexpected $500 expense. In fact, 60.19% of employees WorkLife supported this year said they would be unable to afford an emergency expense of $300 or more. 

Strategies to help employees with inflation 

If you have noticed that your employees are acting more distracted or less productive than usual, what would it mean for your company to find out that the reason might be because:

  • employees are working a second job to keep up with the rising cost of living
  • they’re burned out and can’t find a mental health provider with availability, or
  • they’re distracted because they aren’t sure where they are going to sleep tonight?

Now, what would it mean if you could also provide support for those same employees?

You can support your employees when inflation is high by: 

  • Providing financial planning services. For example, offer financial literacy training to educate and enable your employees to reach their financial goals. At WorkLife, our Resource Navigators can support your employees with prioritizing expenses, understanding how to create a budget, setting financial goals, and so much more!
  • Offering mental health support. For employees navigating inflation anxiety, it’s crucial they have the tools they need to manage their mental health. Increased stress levels can result in loss of productivity, focus, and burnout. WorkLife Navigators connect employees to resources that are best fit to help them manage stress and improve their overall well-being.
  • Ensuring they have wellness benefits. Giving employees wellness benefits like flexible schedules or increased PTO can go a long way. Flexibility and stability in scheduling gives employees the time, space, and ability to navigate the unexpected. WorkLife can be a resource to employees needing the time and space to solve problems and create more stability in their work environment. 
  • Helping with healthcare. While everyday living prices may be up, another big financial concern for employees is healthcare costs. When you give employees health benefits they value, they’ll further your recruiting and retention efforts. WorkLife Partnership’s Health Benefits Navigator service can help employees navigate the healthcare system. WorkLife can walk your employees through choosing the right benefits, accessing care, medical bills, debt, and more.
  • Creating a space where employees can voice their concerns. To show your employees that you value them, let them discuss their concerns and challenges. This will only help address their needs.

How WorkLife can help

WorkLife can help you gain insight into the real life challenges impacting your employees at work. We pair this deep understanding of your employees’ needs with expert consultation to help you build and retain a successful workforce. In fact, 74% of the employees we survey say they are more likely to stay at their current company because they worked with us.

Below is a great example of the impact WorkLife has on the employees our Resource Navigators support:

When George* reached out to WorkLife Partnership, he and his family had been really struggling with inflation and other emergency expenses. He had taken out some predatory loans and was concerned about losing his housing. When speaking with a Resource Navigator, he shared that he and his wife were out of work for months due to the pandemic. They lost so much income and drained their savings accounts. They started relying on credit cards and loans to get by, and were considering debt consolidation. 

The Resource Navigator was able to walk George through a COVID Emergency Rent Assistance application process and answer questions he had along the way.

Not only did he get approved to get all of his back-rent paid, they also paid 3 months into the future! Additionally, the Navigator connected him to GreenPath Financial Wellness to discuss whether or not debt consolidation is the best route to take. He will continue working with GreenPath to navigate paying off the predatory loans. George expressed relief to the Navigator stating, “I feel like a huge weight has been lifted at the moment!”

*Name changed to preserve confidentiality.

If you’re interested in gaining insight into the real challenges impacting your employees at work, contact us.