Nearly one in three (31%) of UK-based workers polled by HR software provider CIPHR in May report working more hours or extra shifts because of the rising cost-of-living over the past few months.

Also, one in eight (12%) report having taken on an additional job.

This mirrors recent findings from the Office for National Statistics’ latest opinions and lifestyle survey, released earlier this month, which showed that 77 percent of people felt very or somewhat worried about the rising cost of living.

 

Inflation soars

One in four (26%) men and one in five (18%) women say they’ve requested a pay rise to help offset record inflation.

A further 12 percent (16% of men and 10% of women) have asked their employer to expand their employee benefits package, by, for example, adding a health cashback plan or an employee discounts scheme.

However, many are looking elsewhere to boost their earnings. One in eight (12%) people claim to have already found alternative employment with higher wages.

Over double that number (27%) are considering doing the same – finding a job with better pay – because of cost of living increases.

 

Which sectors are seeing the most movement during the rising-cost-of-living?

Legal professionals and hospitality workers are, at least statistically, the most likely to change jobs for more money (38% and 35% respectively are considering getting a new job with better pay).

This is followed by workers in finance, IT, and education (32%, 32% and 31% respectively).

 

Salary cuts result in reluctancy to take needed sick days

One worrying outcome of a cut in real annual salaries – where high inflation reduces the value of wages and pushes up the cost of living – is that people may start forcing themselves to work even when they are too ill to do so because they simply can’t afford not to.

Shockingly, that is the potential reality for nearly half (46%) of survey respondents over the last few months (it is even higher for low-wage workers).

Over half (56%) of individuals earning under £30,000, compared to 37 percent of those earning over £45,000, say they have attended work, despite being unwell, because they didn’t want to take the time off and have their salary docked.

For employees that work at organisations that only pay in line with statutory sick pay (SSP) rules, it means they must be off work sick for three days unpaid before they qualify to receive it. In comparison, for those entitled to company or contractual sick pay, it is often triggered from day one.

“Lower earners and part-time earners – who are often predominantly female – are particularly at a disadvantage under the current SSP system. Compounded by the pressures of rising living costs, it’s inadvertently created a situation where more and more employees are forced to work when they may not be well enough to do so, due to the financial impact of taking time off,” argues Chief People Officer at CIPHR, Claire Williams.

Commenting on the cost-of-living crisis, Ms Williams adds that “[m]oney and financial struggles can be a huge stressor, and can, in turn, have an impact on an individual’s mental health and their ability to perform in their roles.”

 

What should employers be doing?

Ms Williams suggests:

“While there are many things outside of an employer’s control, organisations have a responsibility to support employees’ mental wellbeing in the same way they would when looking after their physical health and safety. There are several ways that this can be achieved. Firstly, check whether any of your existing employee benefits have financial wellbeing support included, as this is usually an area of support offered by employee assistance programmes (EAPs).

“Also consider introducing other benefits that can help your employees right now, such as access to discounted shopping sites, health cashback plans, or loan schemes covering travel or new technology purchases.

“It’s also important to focus on raising awareness about how much financial wellbeing matters to the wider employee experience. Cost of living increases are impacting everyone – but not everyone equally. Running financial education sessions and sharing useful financial information and resources can help mitigate some of the effects. Managers also need to be mindful that everyone’s situation is different, and managers themselves may need extra training so that they can effectively support their teams on a day-to-day basis.

“These are incredibly challenging times, and employers can’t ignore the financial pressures affecting many in their workforce.”

 

Editor at HRreview

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.