As businesses struggle to recover, who is going to help their workers?

Philippa Bell

Published on:

September 7, 2020

The national lockdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has hit Britain’s small businesses hard. A total of 35% of all SMEs said they had been forced to shut down during the crisis, according to research carried out for our new Small Business Monitor.

While 18% said they were planning to reopen, 17% admitted they were unsure when they would be able to get back to work. The figure was fairly consistent across most industry sectors, but the retail and hospitality sectors were worst hit, with 24% saying they didn’t know when they would be up and running again.

For those that can reopen when the time comes, the worst is far from over. Income has reduced, as almost three quarters (73%) of firms saw their income fall during this period, while costs have increased to allow them to operate under the new social distancing rules. It’s no wonder that 62% of smaller businesses expect their income to remain reduced over the next 12 months.

This, along with the added social, mental, physical and economic pressures outside of work, combine to be a massive strain on all employees. Small companies and their employees need help to get back on their feet fast - WorkLife is the perfect tool to help do just that.  

The UK small business sector employs more than 16.5 million people[i], many of whom are struggling financially themselves because of lockdown, so much so, almost three million cash-strapped people have been given payment holidays on their mortgages and credit cards[ii].

One of the key elements of WorkLife is our free financial advice service for all employees, provided by OpenMoney, helping employees make the most out of their finances. As we’re keen to support all aspects of employee wellbeing, we also give workers free mental health support from Thrive, plus a host of discounts on shopping, restaurants and fitness retailers that will add up to hundreds of pounds worth of savings every year.

The current situation is bad news for bosses and terrible news for their employees, many of whom will already be worried about job security and their personal financial situation. What we want to create with the WorkLife platform is a real opportunity for employers to provide their workers with the help and support, both financially and mentally, during what is clearly going to be a difficult period for everyone.

To make it even easier for employers to support their teams during this time, we are making the WorkLife platform totally free for the rest of 2020*.

Now there’s no excuse.

*The normal cost is £2 per employee per month, with no additional setup fee.

Our Small Business Monitor is based on research carried out by 3Gem among 750 senior financial and HR decision makers in UK SME companies with 5 - 250 employees. Fieldwork took place 7 to 26 June 2020.

[i] Government Data

[ii] UK Finance Data