12th July 2022

Improve Employee Engagement in Times of High Inflation

How to Make Work Worth It

The U.S. inflation rate rose 8.5% year-over-year in March, the highest inflation rate since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With rising costs, employees are looking for employers that will not only reflect that inflation positively in the pay scale but keep the workplace a desirable and engaging place to be. The stress in the wake of the pandemic, the ongoing competitive nature of the labor market, and rising inflation levels are all playing a part. The job market is hot, and workers have less hesitation about leaving a workplace for competitive pay and better benefits. In today’s competitive labor market, how is your business strategizing employee retention? Let’s look at some key factors:

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Salary Increase and Bonuses

  • This is the most obvious, if not the most controversial tip. Just as the cost of living is increasing, so is the cost of doing business. However, if it’s in your budget, consider increasing your hourly wages, or introducing a cost-of-living adjustment. Even a small raise can make a significant difference in your employees’ lives and their commitment to your workplace.
  • You could also issue a round of one-time bonuses specifically with the intent of easing the burden of inflation. During this period of high inflation, consider instituting a “retention bonus.” This bonus is telegraphed and intended to encourage employees to stick around longer by rewarding them for reaching a certain term of employment: If an employee makes it to the end of the quarter, the year, the third year, etc., there will be a $300 to $500 bonus reward. With necessities, such as groceries, rising 1.1% in price month-over-month, this extra incentive could be what keeps your employees from seeking other employment or leaving your industry altogether.

Healthcare Benefits:

  • CEDR HR Solutions notes: “All indications are that healthcare costs are going to continue rising across the board, for instance. Try to avoid passing increases in the fixed cost of things like healthcare benefits on to your employees.” Avoid increasing premiums and look into options you can add without additional cost to employees – telehealth, counseling, or fitness app subscriptions.

Remote Work Options

  • The past two years saw a radical shift in the attitude towards remote work, and what used to feel impossible, now seems like a norm that’s here to stay. Employees are notably happier when given remote work options or a hybrid office environment. Owl Labs noted: 80% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed. Check out our recent blog post on remote work and employee engagement for more details on this phenomenon.
  • Aside from general stress levels decreasing, remote work allows employees to save on the cost to commute to work, and potentially enables them to move to a less expensive city. “Importantly, employees who work remotely decrease commuting to help save on gas or other transportation expenses, and they can more easily prepare food and eat at home and avoid regular (and often pricey) lunches or coffee breaks with colleagues.” (https://hrexecutive.com/5-employer-strategies-to-help-with-soaring-inflation/)

Workplace Development and Perks

  • If direct compensation is off the table, consider the ways in which you can improve or build up your employee base through additional learning and development opportunities or office perks.
  • Consider offering reimbursement for continuing education in your field, or any additional certification courses.
  • Keep the office an enjoyable place to be by adding a coffee bar, breakfast, or snack bar, or adding art and plants.
  • Offer access to, or training with, a variety of financial services to help employees learn to budget or manage their finances and investments. Services and apps like You Need a Budget offer training to help employees make the most of their paycheck.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The bottom line is that the world is getting more expensive, and to retain and engage your employees you need to make it possible and desirable for them to continue working for you, either through commensurate compensation or added benefits.

If you want to learn more or need some help with team building to boost your organization’s performance, check out the Employee Engagement training we offer. Our coaching and training can help you create a more connected, high-performing, and engaged team. We can also help magnify the effectiveness of your leaders and managers as they learn how to better engage employees in the office or remotely.