Tips on how benefits can help soften the blow of the cost of living crisis on employees and their families

Rises in tax, food and energy prices and failure of pay to keep up in recent years is putting wellbeing under threat

The pandemic had a profound effect on the finances of UK households. Earlier this year, 1 in 3 employees said they were struggling to keep up with their financial commitments – double what it was before the pandemic. As the cost-of-living crisis worsened over the last few months, it is now clear that employees are already experiencing a larger financial shock than the 2008 financial crisis. 

Pay isn’t keeping up with the cost of living
Compounding the current crisis is the failure of pay to keep up with the cost of living. As a result of low wage growth, pay has technically fallen by 1% – the steepest fall we’ve seen in 8 years. As it stands, energy bills alone are set to rise at least 14 times faster than wages, new research suggests.

The TUC estimates that, since 2010, energy bills have risen at twice the speed of average wages. The union body estimated that record high energy prices alone could wipe out the entire value of any pay rises this year. 

Impact on living standards
As a result of this cost-of-living crisis, we will inevitably see an impact on employee living standards. The hardest hit will be middle and low-income families – which for many companies will constitute almost all their employees.

Combined with tax changes, recent price increases will have implications for employee’s living standards. For example, an employee with a salary of £30,000 would need to see a nominal wage growth of 7.1% to just maintain their standard of living given the current rate of inflation. With estimates putting the average UK pay rise at 3.4% this year, even employees who benefit from them will still find themselves having to cut back. The combination of slow wage growth and the rising cost of living will feel like a 4% pay cut for many of your average earners – and that is significant. 

Real household impact
Price increases will have different impacts on different households depending on what they spend on goods and services. Looking at data from the IFS, we can see that while lower income households are hit disproportionately by the increases in gas prices, overall inflation rates are similar across different income groups. While gas prices affect a smaller proportion of total budget among high-income households, the inflation that these households face is higher due to increases in things like transport and hospitality costs. 

While poorer households will feel the cost-of-living crisis more than others, those middle to high-income households will find themselves paying more for things they spend more of their budget on, such as recreation, hospitality and travel. This could lead to people cutting out or cutting down on entertainment, which may have a negative impact on other areas of wellbeing.

Impact on mental health
This cost-of-living crisis will highlight the interdependent nature of our wellbeing. The increased pressure and stress can be expected to hit employee wellbeing, with an increase in poor mental health and sleep problems. Even higher income households will have to tighten their belts and adjust their spending on things such as holidays. But there are ways employers can provide quick and cost-effective support. 

Making net pay go further
We know behaviour change makes a huge difference to an employee’s financial wellbeing. We also know that when people feel more in control of their finances, they feel more confident in their financial future. At a time when so much of an employee’s finances are out of their control, what employers can do to make them feel more in control and help them make better financial decisions is important. That’s why it’s time employee discounts were brought right back into the limelight as a serious way to have a positive impact on your people’s finances. 

A core feature of financial wellbeing has always been to help employees make their net pay go further. But in the face of huge financial challenges this year, discounts, and encouraging employees to use them, have become a vital component of a wellbeing strategy. Here are examples of just how effective they can be:

The national insurance (NI) rise this year will affect the average earner to the tune of around £250, while the average UK household spends around £5,000 a year on food. By encouraging employees to pay for their grocery shopping using gift cards through an employee discount scheme, an average earner could save enough money to completely mitigate the NI rise this year. 

Even the cost of fuel increase can be mitigated through employee discounts. With the average UK motorist spending £100 a month on petrol (around 60 litres), a discount of just 2p per litre would save the average motorist nine litres of petrol. Depending on what car you drive, that would take you from London to Dunstable and even as far as Northampton, for free.

Employers will feel the sting of poor employee wellbeing
Rising living costs are a societal and an economic issue that is increasingly challenging for employers as they deal with the impact of this crisis in the workplace. As costs remain high, employers will see an increase in stress, lower mood, higher absence rates and even higher turnover as employees seek out higher pay. The data tells us millions of employees need and want more financial assistance from their employer. Those employers that offer to help bear the load of this crisis for their people will reap many benefits. 

Originally published on REBA

Gethin Nadin

Chief Innovation Officer @ Benefex

Shared from

Webinar: The cost of living, net pay, and smarter buying decisions

Mar 21, 2022 11:00 AM GMT

On Monday 21st March, Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer for Benefex, is joined by Megan Sowney, Wrkit Managing Director for a discussion around the unfolding cost of living crisis and ways employers can help their people save more of their hard-earned net pay through behavioural change. They’ll cover:
• What we know about the cost-of-living crisis and why it’s going to get worse
• The need for employees to make smarter buying decisions
• The resurgence of discounts as part of the financial wellbeing strategy

Wrkit’s Guide to Buying Irish this Christmas

Now more than ever, it’s important to shop local and buy Irish. It’s also easier to do than ever before with hundreds of Irish businesses, small and large, now selling online.

 At Wrkit, we’re proud to work with fantastic Irish businesses of all shapes and sizes. With Christmas just around the corner, and shopping getting well and truly under way, you’re sure to find that perfect gift from one our brilliant partners. We’ve put together this handy guide that will help you support Irish with your Christmas Shopping this year.

Clothing & Accessories

Duck Hook

Duck Hook is on a quest to create fashionable and affordable golf apparel. We believe you should look great on the golf course and what you wear shouldn’t ever look out of place off it.

Birthday Cufflinks

Give a gift of a piece of history with a unique handmade set of coin cufflinks, made from genuine coins using a set of upcycled coins to remember a unique event from a special year.

Best Menswear

Established in 1948, Best Menswear is one of Ireland’s leading Menswear retailers with locations around Ireland and an online shop.


CarveOn is an Irish crafts company making Personalised Handmade Goods and Personalised Leather Golf Accessories. They use a blend of traditional and modern techniques to make personalised gifts.


Peachylean are on a mission to help women to feel comfy and supported in their skin with active wear shapes and sculpts like shapewear, worn as comfortable as gym wear.

Food, Wine & Hampers

Blackrock Cellar

Blackrock Cellar is an independent fine wine and craft beer store and winner of the 2017 and 2019 National Off-licence Of The Year at the Noffla Awards.

Gifts Direct

Gifts Direct is Ireland’s largest online gifts & hampers delivery company. Thousands of specially created gifts perfect for every occasion.

The Green Grocer’s Daughter

The Green Grocer’s Daughter is a unique Irish Artisan Luxury Food & Gift Hamper Online Store which provides customers with exquisite food items and lasting gifts that keep on giving.

Cloud Picker Coffee

Specialty coffee roasters seeking the best coffee on earth. The perfect gift for that coffee lover in your life.

Hampers & Co

Hampers & Co is Irelands Luxury online Hamper & Gift retailer. For over 22 years, they have packaged, sourced designed & delivered beautifully presented hampers of exceptional quality.

Wines Direct

Wines Direct is an Irish family owned and operated wine importers with a mission to source independently made wines directly from growers around the world.


Arran Street East

Arran Street East is a lifestyle brand, designing and making simple and beautiful ceramic tableware. They design and produce their hand-thrown pottery homewares in their Dublin studio.

April & the Bear

April and the Bear is one of Ireland’s leading interior + lifestyle stores, filled to the brim with eclectic homewares, exclusive art prints, gifts and beautiful furniture.

Rathbornes 1488

Established in Dublin in 1488, Rathbornes are the world’s oldest candle-makers. Their chandlers hand pour luxury fragranced candles, diffusers and bath and body products designed with a modern sophisticated edge.


Woolow is a pioneering sleep-care company that designs and manufactures a range of natural, allergy free and eco-friendly sleep care products in Ireland.

Fitness & Health

Huku Balance

Based in Donegal, Huku Balance hand craft balance borads. Their boards are designed to aid you in developing better balance, coordination, and core strength, as well as having fun.

Fitness Equipment Ireland is an Irish company determined to supply you with the highest quality products in fitness equipment at the lowest prices on the market.

Kuma Bikes

Kuma Bikes is an Irish electric bike company based in Dublin. Established in 2018, their goal is to offer an alternative to the traditional style electric bike.

Spotlight Oral Care

Take care of your health by taking care of your teeth. Irish brand Spotlight Oral Care is a safe and effective range of products that consumers can trust in and use in the comfort of their own home.

Kids & Toys

Jiminy Eco Toys

Jiminy Eco Toys is an eco-specialist toy company specialising in toys made sustainably from natural materials that are well-designed, well-made, educational, and fun.

Stocking Fillers Ireland

Stocking Fillers Ireland is home to a wonderful selection of quality Christmas gifts and toys. There’s something for everyone in our range of Christmas goodies.

Taylor’s Santa Experience

Taylor’s Santa Experience is Dublin’s most exciting Christmas event of 2021. End the year with this magical in-person festive event that’s sure to capture the magic and wonder of Christmas spirits.

Zoom Santa

Book your live call with Santa direct from the North Pole. Include your friends and family on the Zoom call to see your child’s reaction.

Best of the Rest


Tecca is an Irish tech store located in Dublin. With thousands of electronics and gadgets including electric scooters, iMacs, smart home devices, and much more, you’re sure to find that perfect gift.


Treat yourself to the ultimate lounging experience with Buddabag. Handmade in Ireland, Buddabag is known worldwide for their high-quality products.

Mama’s Hospital Bag

Mamas Hospital Bag is an online Irish Company, providing luxury hospital bag bundles and gift boxes for mums, babies or both.


Say goodbye to single-use water bottles and coffee cups, and replace them with a new, sustainable and – not unimportant – stylish alternative from Kambukka.

Lifestyle Savings at Wrkit

You’ll find savings for all of the above partners and so much more in the Lifetsyle Savings module of your Wrkit portal.

If you’d like to learn more about how Wrkit can benefit your employees, get in touch and request a demo.