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Rising inflation, interest rate hikes and significant increases in the cost of food, fuel, energy and many other essential items have impacted households across the country.

A sharp increase in production costs has put financial strain on a lot of business, many of which will find it difficult to provide a pay rise to match inflation. 

stressed employee

This is a great worry for many employers, who will find it difficult to retain top talent, and continue to compete in the job market – but a pay rise isn’t the only way to support your people financially.


Are you looking for ideas that will make an impact with your people? Ask your employees what they need and you may be surprised at what they’ll tell you and what problems you’ll be able to solve with even a limited budget. Below are some creative ways companies have responded to employee feedback and are making working through the next phase of the pandemic a little easier on employees – and their back pockets.

1. Promote existing benefits that help support financial wellbeing
2. Ease the burden of working from home
3. Introduce a 'Book Benefit'
4. Provide material to support financial, mental and physical wellbeing
5. Congratulate and motivate employees with a mini-bonus
6. Tap into the power of reward and recognition

1. Promote existing benefits that help support financial wellbeing

Now is the time to remind employees about anything already available to them to support their wellbeing. This might include:

Access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Some employees only consider accessing an EAP if they are dealing with grief or mental health challenges, and may need reminding that they may be able to access financial education or advice through your provider.
Making the most of a discounts program: The rising cost of living has put financial pressure on most households. Being able to save money on groceries, petrol, entertainment, fitness and more can make a huge difference.
Providing a salary advance or small loan: Many employees may be reworking their household budgets, particularly if the earning capacity for those living under the same roof has taken a hit. Paying employees a salary advance or offering small loans on request can help alleviate the pressure of staying on top of rent, mortgage repayments or ongoing bills.

McDonald’s designed posters for the crew rooms in its restaurants to proactively promote its employee benefits program in over 970 restaurants. The posters reminded its people of the retail offers that would provide the most practical support during this period and can easily access on home computers and via the mobile app. Not surprisingly, the top retailers in recent months included Woolworths and JB-Hifi, and they saw an increase in purchases from EB Games and Rebel.

2. Ease the burden of working from home

employee working from homeHybrid working is now the new normal for many organisations. According to Gartner’s 2022 Global Talent Monitor, supporting employees' preferred workspace is a top driver of attraction in the Australian job market. Though, not everyone has an environment that is ideal for working from home and providing even some basic equipment can improve employees’ engagement, as well as physical and mental wellbeing. This is why some companies have offered to pay for items that will allow their people to set up an effective workspace at home.

In response to a survey our employees completed during the early stages of the pandemic, Reward Gateway introduced a Work From Home Bundle benefit that offers all our employees items to improve both the current and future work from home situation.

The bundle includes a chair, desk, laptop stand and a keyboard and mouse. Employees can either request that Reward Gateway makes the purchase and organises delivery to their home address, or they can pick their own equipment and claim a certain amount to make it more affordable. Creating a benefit that removes or at least softens the cost of setting up a workstation at home is an investment that makes sense.

Learn how to deliver meaningful discounts to extend employees' disposable  income See solution

3. Introduce a 'Book Benefit'

When households experience cost-pressure, spending money on entertainment is often limited. So, why not introduce a book benefit for your people - and help your employees remain entertained and connected? Reading is a great way to encourage fun and focus: 

In addition to reducing stress and promoting empathy and emotional intelligence, reading can help build skills for the future and provide employees an opportunity to connect and discuss something that isn’t directly related to work.

Reward Gateway’s original book benefit allowed employees to purchase books for their professional benefit (we covered both the item and shipping cost), but have since expanded it to include one book for personal enjoyment to be purchased once a month.

4. Provide material to support financial, mental and physical wellbeing

Having easy access to healthy recipes to cook at home, mindfulness strategies to stay focussed and tips to maintain physical fitness can help employees stay on track and feeling well throughout their time away from the office.

We have a Wellbeing Allowance for all of our own employees. With the allowance, our people can purchase fitness equipment, subsidise their gym membership or health insurance, buy a bike, attend yoga classes – anything they feel will support their physical or mental wellbeing.  

We also run healthy challenges with our employees – and lots of us get involved. Our CEO, Doug Butler opted into our recent ‘get moving’ challenge, and immediately ‘upped the ante’ by personally committing an AUD $30 donation to any employees’ charity of choice once they sent him a screenshot of their 5km run or walk or 25km cycle. It was a fantastic way to support  employees to leave their workstation and get outdoors while providing an opportunity to support a charity in a time when they might not be able to. 

Stronger together challenge and CEO response


Within the first week of issuing the challenge, Reward Gateway employees achieved over 250k of exercise and more than AUD $2,000 contributed to great charities around the globe.

5. Congratulate and motivate employees with a mini-bonus

While pay increases and big bonuses might be out of the picture for the immediate future, some organisations are using what they have to celebrate the efforts their people have made in recent months.

Symbio, a communications software and services provider, rewarded its 406 employees a $100 “You're doing great” mini-bonus, to thank them for how well they've adapted to remote working arrangements.

symbio thank you vouchers mockup

6. Tap into the power of reward and recognition

If a mini-bonus is out of the picture, don’t forget your existing reward and recognition program might be another way to provide employees financial stimulus. If your program allows, employees who receive peer-to-peer recognition, manager or company awards that have a monetary value can redeem these to reduce or cover the cost of an essential or wish-list item.

 Now, more than ever, employees need to be recognised for the impact they are making to support each other and their customers. 

We are motivated by small wins, and reminding managers to recognise their teams not only boosts morale, it might be an opportunity to financially reward them too.

At a time when many Australians are looking for relief, finding creative and low-cost ways to provide employees financial support can be the perfect boost they’re looking for. Not only will it lessen their stress and anxiety, it will help build employees' trust in you; an investment that will strengthen your company today and long into the future.

Need other ideas for how you can help boost employees' income? Get in touch with a member of our team to see how we can support your employees during the cost of living increases. 

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Evan Smith

Evan is one of our Employee Engagement Consultants. His passion for people means he is always leaning in to share, listen and learn stories form HR leaders around the country. To relax, you'll find him walking his dog and on the hunt for good food.

Employee Engagement Consultant

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