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Improving employee engagement in the age of economic uncertainty

3 min read

If the weight of rising costs hasn’t already caught your attention, consider yourself among the fortunate few. For many Australian employees in 2024, financial strain has become a daily reality—a fact underscored by our research showing that more than half are feeling the pinch. The big question for employers is: in an era where budgets are constantly being squeezed, how can we support our employees to maintain financial well-being?

For those in HR, this isn’t just another item on the agenda—it’s the pulse of the workplace. The Flare National Employee Benefits Index illustrates a sobering reality, with over 50% of businesses bracing for a recession, echoing the financial anxieties of their teams. This scenario transcends mere statistics; it’s about real individuals expecting real support from their workplaces. As an HR leader, your role is pivotal in leveraging employee benefits—not just as a formality, but as a meaningful engagement strategy that fosters both stability and productivity.

Stress at work isn’t just a personal issue; it’s a business one. Findings from Culture Amp highlight a stark reality: stress doesn’t just unsettle your team, it hits the bottom line through lost productivity and higher absentee rates. But there’s a flip side. When leadership invests in learning and development, the payoff isn’t just in skills gained. It translates into engaged employees who not only boast better mental health but also outperform their stressed counterparts. Tackling workplace stress isn’t just about reducing negatives; it’s about amplifying positives—bolstering both individual well-being and collective engagement.

Improving employee engagement through financial wellbeing support

Novated leasing shifts stress

Though novated leasing might not be the hottest topic or the most popular benefit — offered by only 19 percent of employers with a tiny 3 percent adoption rate — its significance when it comes to enhancing employee experience is substantial. The average Flare leaseholder saves $6,000 per year on their car costs. Additionally, adopting employee benefits can slash the stress of commuting by a remarkable 20%, injecting a dose of financial relief into the workday.

Discounts that add up

Imagine a world where the daily grind doesn’t grind down your finances. With costs rising across the board, savings on everyday essentials are a prized boon to working Australians. Flare benefits include discounts on day-to-day expenses like groceries, fuel, health and more. These benefits add up for the employer, too. Employees with benefits are significantly less likely to want to leave their job and are much less stressed by unfulfilling work, promoting resilience throughout the workforce.  

Investing in an employee’s retirement

Considering and celebrating the (eventual) end of an employee’s journey is also important. Over the past year there’s been a 12% increase in financial and retirement planning support provided by employers, underscoring the growing importance of these benefits. It’s a commitment that goes beyond the here and now, extending a promise of security that spans the length of an employee’s career.

Beyond financial benefits

But financial well-being is only part of the picture. Flexible and remote working opportunities, for example, are the benefits that employees say will drive the highest loyalty. However, there’s been a 16 percent decrease in companies offering this perk since our first round of research — a trend that has been evident in recent news cycles as employers increasingly enforce return-to- office policies. When we review the most-used benefits, free snacks come out on top. Because who doesn’t love a free donut? While these perks may not put money directly back into the employee pocket, they promote trust in the employer-employee relationship and allow employees to work in a way that works for them. 

As we look into the future, it’s imperative to adjust our benefit strategies to align with evolving economic and workforce challenges. We’ve found a rise in employee satisfaction as benefits integrate further into company culture*, emphasising the importance of adaptable and responsive benefit programs. CultureAmp are the experts in employee engagement and their platform can help you build a competitive advantage by putting your company culture first. 

Schedule a free demo now if you’re interested in exploring more about the crucial relationship between benefits and employee engagement.

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In the realm of workplace finances, 2024 has presented a sobering reality for many Australian employees. The weight of rising costs has become an undeniable burden, with over half of workers feeling the squeeze on a daily basis. This financial strain isn’t just a personal issue—it’s a business concern that demands attention and action from employers.