How can businesses support workers in the cost of living crisis?

New report from the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage Foundation has published a new report that found that despite inflation easing, the cost of living crisis is far from over for Britain’s 3.5 million low-paid workers. Half of those surveyed reported that they are worse off than a year ago, with 65% saying it was because of the increased cost of living. The report also found that food bank usage is higher than a year ago for those on the lowest pay, with 60% having visited food banks over the past 12 months.

This is hurting workers’ health, relationships, and quality of life. The Living Wage Foundation calls on businesses to pay their staff a real Living Wage, calculated based on living costs. By committing to the real Living Wage, you can help to make a difference in the lives of low-paid workers and their families.

As a business, you can help by:

  • Paying your staff a real Living Wage.
  • Partnering with local charities and organisations that support low paid workers.
  • Advocating for policies that support low paid workers, such as increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to affordable housing.

By taking these steps, you can help to make a difference in the lives of low paid workers and their families.

What if you can’t increase the wage bill right now?

We know that the cost of living crisis has had a catastrophic effect on businesses as well. Some businesses are struggling to make ends meet and increasing the wage bill is just not an option right now. However, there are still ways to support your workers. Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer flexible working arrangements. This can help your workers to save on childcare and transportation costs.
  • Provide access to training and development opportunities. This can help your employees to upskill and improve their earning potential.
  • Partner with local charities and organisations that support low-paid workers. This could involve offering discounts or donations to these organisations or volunteering your time and expertise. For example, you could partner with a local food bank to provide your workers and your local community with access to affordable food.
  • Advocate for policies that support low-paid workers, such as increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to affordable housing. You can do this by contacting your local councillors and letting them know that you support these policies.
  • Offer shared transportation to and from work. This could involve setting up a carpool or cycle-to-work scheme or providing subsidised shuttle buses.
  • Provide on-site meals or snacks at a discounted price. This can help your staff to save money on food costs.
  • Offer child care assistance. This could involve providing on-site childcare or making childcare vouchers more accessible. Find out about the local childcare options available and help employees to share their recommendations and experience with their colleagues.
  • Offer financial planning assistance. This could involve providing workers with access to a financial advisor or offering educational workshops on budgeting and money management.

Every little bit helps! By taking some of these steps, businesses can make a big difference in the lives of their employees.

Where to start.

Be creative and flexible. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to supporting your employees. What works for one business may not work for another. Be willing to try different things and to adjust your approach as needed.

Get feedback from your teams. Talk to your employees about what they need and want. What would make their lives easier? What would help them to be more productive and engaged at work?

Work with other like-minded businesses. Partner with other businesses in your community to offer shared resources and support to your workers. For example, you could work together to set up a carpool program or to provide subsidised childcare. Your local Chamber of Commerce network could be a great place to start.

Be patient and persistent. It takes time and effort to make a real difference Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working at it, and you will eventually make a difference.

Make a difference.

Supporting your employees is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good commercial sense. By supporting your workers, you can create a more positive and productive work environment for everyone and make a real difference to your internal marketing. You can also help to build a stronger and more resilient community.

 You can read the full report from the Living Wage Foundation Inflation eases but cost of living crisis far from over to learn more.

Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!

 

Coronavirus Prevention and Candidate Care

Candidate care is paramount at Octopus Personnel.  Lucie, Office Manager, explains how Octopus Personnel are supporting Coronavirus prevention and safeguarding the wellbeing of our candidates and clients.

Octopus Personnel is working intensively with our clients to ensure all reasonable Health & Safety measures are being taken to safeguard the wellbeing of everyone.  Below is our guidance on COVID-19 and what to do if you feel unwell.

If you have:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a new loss of taste or smell

You should self isolate for 14 days and you must follow Octopus Personnel’s sickness reporting procedures, calling 01747 825568.

You have an obligation to notify Octopus Personnel if you have travelled abroad in the last month.

Coronavirus / COVID-19

 

Coronavirus Symptoms - Octopus Personnel Candidate Care

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways.  The NHS provide public information about the virus and the latest advice on how to protect yourself. If you need medical help, please use the 111 online coronavirus service.

Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID 19)

What to do if you have symptoms

Self isolate for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a new loss of taste or smell

This will help to protect others in your community while you are potentially infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.  You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re self isolating. People who are are self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested for COVID-19.

What does Self-Isolating mean?

  • Stay at home for 14 days after your last contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
  • Do not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home.
  • Self-isolating at home for the 14-day period will help protect your family, friends and the NHS. Self-isolating at home in this way can also protect the most vulnerable in society, by reducing the chance of a second wave of COVID-19 in the wider community.
  • If you are living with children, keep following this guidance to the best of your ability, however, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.
  • Not all these measures will be possible if you, or those you are living with, have significant conditions such as learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illness. Please keep following this guidance to the best of your ability, while keeping yourself and those close to you safe and well, ideally in line with any existing care plans.
  • If you live with clinically vulnerable people or clinically extremely vulnerable people, stay away from them as much as possible, following this guidance. For the clinically extremely vulnerable please follow the shielding guidance.

Coronavirus Prevention – Preventing the Spread of Infection

 

Coronavirus Infographic explaining how to prevent infection - Candidate Care Octopus Personnel

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading Coronavirus COVID-19:

  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with or anyone not in your support bubble
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it’s hard to stay away from people, such as in shops or on public transport
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.

Further Information

Further information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 is available on the PHE blog and NHS.UK.

Advice from the NHS on when to self-isolate is here:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

Advice from the Government to Employer, Employees and Business can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Advice on travel and returning from travel is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus and from the Foreign Office Website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice You should notify Octopus Personnel if you have been abroad in the last month.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public provides further information, including symptoms and the latest advice.

If you have any further concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the office on 01747 825568 for further support.

Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!

 

Recruitment and the impact of Coronavirus

Sandra Smart, Octopus Personnel Director, outlines our approach to limiting risk from Coronavirus for candidates and clients during recruitment, and how we are currently adapting our business model.

At Octopus Personnel, we take the care of our candidates and clients very seriously and are taking a government guided common sense approach to preventing the spread of infection whilst continuing to operate as an effective business.  This will be updated and changed in line with changes in Government advice as they arise.

Woman using hand sanitiser - the impact of Coronavirus on Recruitment

Responsible Risk Management

Advice for employers from the Government can be read here.  Following our own internal risk assessment in line with this advice and advice from Public Health England (PHE), we have decided to enable the team to work remotely.  At home, they are still taking the following measures to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) should they cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • Washing hands with soap and water often – see hand washing guidance
  • Avoiding contact with people who are unwell and providing all candidates with the government guidance about when to self-isolate
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, including desks, kitchens and toilets
  • Trying to avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth if hands are not clean
  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with or anyone not in your support bubble
  • wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it’s hard to stay away from people, such as in shops or on public transport

Advice to Clients and Candidates about Temporary Working and Coronavirus

We have provided all our candidates currently working with guidance on prevention of transmission of Coronavirus, when to self-isolate and where to seek further information when needed.

We have contacted all our clients to establish if they have deployed any new Health & Safety measures in their workplaces related to Coronavirus (COVID 19) to safeguard employees and businesses to ensure all our candidates are fully briefed before assignment and following all procedures.

We are keeping abreast of Government guidance, which is updated regularly here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Further information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 is available on the PHE blog and NHS.UK.

We have also used the useful information for employers provided by ACAS:  https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus.

 

Person washing their hands - impact of Coronavirus on recruitment

Changes to the interview process

Some clients have asked us if they should be utilising Skype and video conferencing for interviews moving forward, instead of meeting with candidates at their offices.

Skype interviews often allow candidates to fit the interview into their schedule much quicker, as they can be conducted within lunchtimes or before or straight after work.  Whilst Skype is a fantastic tool and undoubtedly the next best thing to meeting with candidates in person, it does still leave a small disconnect.  A candidate doesn’t have the same experience of the business, the culture or the people, which means it’s harder for them to be so invested in the process, not having seen the building, or explored the vibe of the team, or imagining how they might fit in.

So if you are interviewing via Skype, you need to be a little bit creative.  Perhaps allow a second round of interviews where the team dial in for a chat?  Do you have site video candidates could watch?  Do you have a company blog?  Any good candidate will already have researched what is available online, but you might be able to flesh out more of the details of the company ethos whilst you talk, and use the examples they have seen to illustrate your points.

 

Two women looking at a laptop

Will we continue to interview candidates?

Our business model has always included meeting candidates face to face,  but in line with the changes in governmental advice, we are moving to utilise Skype, Zoom and Facetime to enable us to interview candidates online.  All our systems are up and running and we are able to offer the same robust, indepth service we always have.  In order to continue to really understand our candidates and what makes them tick, we use the same methods to interview them comprehensively so we can ensure the best fit for client and candidate, whilst protecting the health of all.

What will happen if the Government’s advice about Coronavirus changes?

We are confident that we can continue to provide an excellent standard of service throughout this challenging period and we are here to offer our clients and candidates the best possible support. Preparations have been made to enable the business to continue to function effectively, with a skeleton team working in the office and others working remotely.  In the short term, face to face meetings will no longer take place.  However, we are fully equipped for conference calls through Zoom and Skype and other modes of online communication, and are exploring platforms to speed up the process and flow of online interviewing.  The telephones lines and emails are working and we plan to continue to operate our service as close to normal as we can possibly can achieve.

We continue to follow government guidelines and updates as they are received.

Image of the Sign of 10 Downing Street

Where can I access more information?

Advice from the Government to Employer, Employees and Business can be read here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Advice from the NHS on when to self-isolate is here:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

Advice on travel and returning from travel is here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

We are here to help!

At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role.  Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role or to the right employee who will drive your business forward.  You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.

If you do have further concerns about the interview process or working through Octopus Personnel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19 outbreak, please do contact the office on 01747 825568 and we will support you in finding further information or support.

 

Last Updated 18th March 2020

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Blown Away

To celebrate the launch of their new brand, Gillingham & Yeovil based, Octopus Personnel recently held an open day and also marked the occasion by holding a ‘balloon race’ which raised £500 for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. The balloon travelling the furthest reached Ipswich in East Anglia, a staggering 238 miles away, earning the winning ‘owner’ and ‘finder’ £200 and £50 respectively.

Director Sandra Smart said:

“The Air Ambulance provides local people with a fantastic service and when we realised it depended largely on charitable donations to keep running, we were determined to do something to demonstrate our gratitude and support.“

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.