Bad communication could be short-changing low-income staff

The lowest paid employees are the least likely to have access to a strong benefits package, despite being the group that could use them the most.

In the CIPD’s 2022 Reward Management survey, 66% of employees earning £60,000 were satisfied with their company’s benefits package, compared with just 24% of those paid less than £20,000.

Poor signposting and a lack of information could be partly to blame as just 42% of employees paid below £20,000 said their employer communicates what benefits are available to them, compared with 74% of those paid more than £60,000.

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Speaking to HR magazine, Maria Rooney, HR director at The Glenmorangie Company, said: “Offering great benefits is one thing, making them accessible and understandable to employees is integral.

“Employees have different needs at different times, and it is our job to make sure that our employees know the support that is available to them.”

Though 92% of employers in the survey said they offer training and development opportunities, it showed a lack of benefits dedicated to low-income workers.

Under half (47%) said they offer specific opportunities to help low-earners progress and increase their income.

A further 73% of employers offer occupational sick pay, just 41% of low paid workers said they would receive their usual pay if they were off work for 10 days or more.

Employers’ commitment to financial wellbeing proved to be especially valuable – 65% said a financial wellbeing policy is important.

Charles Cotton, senior policy adviser on performance and reward at the CIPD, said: “Protecting people from in-work poverty goes beyond paying a fair and liveable wage

“Some employers may not even need to introduce new perks – they may just need to work harder to ensure employees know what’s on offer, how it will help them, and how to access existing benefits.”

For Rooney, effective benefits messaging is achieved by including it in every part of the employee lifecycle.

She added: “This includes a programme to understand their pension, their total reward statement, how to manage their home budget, policies that support paid time off, a comprehensive benefits scheme and how to plan for their retirement.”

In addition to benefits messaging via email, intranet resources and management training, Rooney suggested HR take stock of how their packages are received.

She added: “Whilst there are plenty of resources available, the key to success for us is listening to our employees and having quality conversations to understand their needs and then signposting them to the resources that are available.”