· 2 min read · Features

How can HR help employees in fuel poverty? Part two

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Millions of British households are set to face crippling rises in their electricity and gas bills next winter, with the latest projections suggesting the energy price cap will nearly double to £2,400 a year from October.

Research from think tank Resolution Foundation found the 9% of English homes currently experiencing fuel stress is expected to rise to 27% when the energy price cap rises in April, an increase of more than 50%.

The rise in energy bills adds extra anxiety onto employers trying to keep wages at a similar level to rocketing inflation rates. What therefore can HR do to prevent its employees from experiencing fuel poverty?


Soaring cost of living prompts calls for financial support for employees

Wage stagnation threatens wellbeing of low-paid workers

Financial education is now a necessity


 

Patricia Ashworth, director, AdviserPlus Learning Solutions

When pay rises are not an option, there are a few things HR can do. Allow flexibility of work location. Hybrid working is here to stay meaning increased heating and electricity bills for those working at home.

Giving greater opportunity to attend the workplace may help. For those working at home, encourage them to take advantage of the tax relief available.

Offer financial management guidance. Organisations like StepChange and Citizen’s Advice can offer free support to those in debt, whilst employers could also consider supporting staff with budgeting tools or workshops.

Encourage employees to reduce their energy use by switching off heating in empty rooms, keeping doors closed, switching lights off and ensuring windows are draught free can reduce overall consumption.

Support with budgeting. Helping employees to reduce other essentials like food and fuel spread the financial burden. Encourage them to use any benefits or discounts available to them, suggest car sharing to keep down fuel costs and use virtual tools for meetings if that’s possible.

 

David Frost, people and organisational development director, Dole  

In situations where employees may struggle with paying fuel bills HR can provide support by providing access to professional guidance and support.

For example, Citizens Advice provides detailed advice on the various types of financial support that are available together with guidance on how energy suppliers themselves may be able to help.  

If the issue affects a significant proportion of the workforce, it may be appropriate to invite employees to attend in-house workshops or advisory sessions where external specialist advisors provide overall guidance in addition to providing confidential one to one advisory sessions. 

This approach to providing support should be supplemented with up-to-date internal communication channelled through the company’s intranet and notice boards.

 

Catch up on part one of this hot topic here.

 

This piece appears in the January/February 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.