U.K. employees are suffering higher cost-of-living expenses, especially due to transport costs. Tensions may rise as many companies enforce return-to-office policies.

According to the latest study conducted by Capterra on 248 U.K. employees, the majority (69%) say their work-related costs have increased over the past 12 months, especially the price of groceries (95%), utilities (85%), eating out (78%), and petrol (63%).

Specifically, most hybrid and remote employees highlighted travel costs as the highest overall expenditure they have when attending the workplace. In total, over half (53%) of the sample identified petrol as their highest expense in this regard, putting immense pressure on workers that live far away who are forced to attend the office by car.

As nearly three-quarters (74%) of onsite and hybrid workers reported having to travel up to 15.5 miles to get to work, there is clearly a need for companies to address the issue promptly by offering ways to financially support commuters.

In an ideal scenario, raising salaries would be the solution to the cost-of-work problem, but with many companies also feeling the force of inflation, upping people’s pay appears to be out of the question. An alarming 68% of the surveyed workers say their pay hasn’t kept pace with the rate of increasing costs, which may leave them with limited disposable income for essential living expenses.

The stakes are also high for companies if they do not address this pressing issue, as 66% of the respondents admitted they would consider looking for a new job if they were required to spend an unreasonable amount of their own income on commuting to work.

If offering higher salaries is not an option, employers must proactively find ways to financially support their employees before they are left with no choice but to look for other jobs.

How can companies financially support staff?

Many employees feel that companies should at least help them out with some of their commuting costs. For example, 64% say their employer should pay for parking, while a further 47% say that their company should either pay for their public transport costs or share the price to ease the financial burden.

Aside from the economic benefits, the majority (69%) say they would enjoy working onsite more if there were parking or transport reimbursements from employers.

Another initiative proving popular among employees is flexible work schedules. As many as 71% of employees said they would enjoy going to their workplace more if they were offered flexible start and finish times. This can also help staff avoid the high ticket prices at peak times and sitting in rush hour traffic.

Other possible solutions to the costly commute include implementing transport ticket loan systems or discount schemes to financially support employees.

David Jani, U.K. analyst at Capterra, comments:

Our study shows that offering flexibility and benefits that can soften the blow of some of the most impactful costs such as commuting, is not just a nice-to-have. In the current U.K. economic landscape with our competitive labour market, it’s crucial that businesses find ways to support their workforce amid these price hikes, especially if in-office attendance is compulsory. This will not only help retain staff but also prove their value to the organisation.

David Jani, U.K. analyst at Capterra

For more information and advice, read the full report here.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.