Shelter, the homeless charity, has released figures showing that 14% of adults are fearful about losing their homes and 24% of private renters have had to borrow money to keep on top of their rent payments. 18% of those asked have had to reduce their food intake or skip meals to pay their rent, and 12% have avoided putting the heating on to do so. This shows that a lot of people are worrying about rent, and yet very few employees reach out to HR for help.
HR and Line Managers Should Be Supporting Employees Outside of Work
Many adults are struggling to pay their rent, especially with a lot of rent increases and the rising cost of living, and this is something that was made even worse by the pandemic. Unfortunately, this isn’t being spoken about in the workplace, despite many employers being able to help.
Caroline Nugent, HR Director at Financial Ombudsman Service, explained that it’s important for both HR to understand their employees' lives outside of work, and the worries that many people have. Though someone might be turning up to work, they might really be struggling at home, and their mental health and housing could be in jeopardy. She argues that everyone should be encouraged to talk about what is happening in their personal lives, as it could impact their performance at work, as well as their overall wellbeing. It’s important for HR to make opening up about rent struggles the norm for employees.
Employees need to know that support and help is out there, and HR managers could play a key part when it comes to finding a solution to renting issues. But, in order to do so, they need to be aware of the problem. “Talking is the most important thing during a difficult time, as two heads are better than one and HR and managers can often find solutions, they just need to be aware of the problem” said Nugent.
Impending homelessness and money worries can lead to poor mental health, but HR can support employees by showing them the options that are out there. For example, it might be possible for the employee to advance pay, which can be paid back each month over the course of a year. Other employers have notice boards, enabling employees to advertise spare rooms or lodging opportunities.