The real living wage: for the real cost of living

Kathryn Kendall

Categories: Culture, Employee experience

Benefex became an accredited Living Wage employer back in April 2016, when we received our official accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. Becoming an accredited real Living Wage employer was a key strategic priority for the business, and – to this day – it is one of my proudest achievements throughout my career.

As of 5th November 2018, the real Living Wage has been raised to £9/hour and £10.55/hour in London – and that’s the Living Wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, not the National Living Wage (which is effectively just the National Minimum Wage as was, rebranded by the Government).

There are a multitude of reasons why organisations should pay their employees the real Living Wage. The business benefits are many and varied – for example, you immediately have a valuable tool to attract and retain talent; being an accredited Living Wage employer is an excellent way to differentiate from your competitors. By paying the real Living Wage, you ensure that your employees can cover the real cost of living: that’s the actual cost of running a household, factoring in all goods and services, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.

We know the startling statistics on financial concerns: a survey by AXA discovered that as many as 70% of employees have spent time worrying about their personal finances at work. By ensuring the people who work for us have the basics covered, there’s a subsequent, and significant, impact on productivity.

With younger generations – millennials and the newly monikered ‘Generation K’ – bringing a new set of demands into the workplace, candidates are increasingly seeking employers with a hefty focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Becoming an accredited Living Wage employer is a great way to actively demonstrate your intention to drive a positive contribution within the local community and show you genuinely care, by putting your money where your mouth is.

But none of the above are the primary reasons that we, at Benefex, became accredited. Very simply, we are an accredited real Living Wage employer because we believe it is the right thing to do.

People go into their careers for all kinds of reasons. For myself, and so many of my colleagues, we do what we do because we want to make a difference; because we want to do the right thing. Because we believe that we can make a difference and do the right thing There are far too many examples out there of corporates who have pursued their organisational goals at the cost of human wellbeing. At Benefex, we believe in doing things well, but we also believe in doing things right.

I want everyone who works for Benefex to feel that they are treated fairly, and are paid a fair day’s wage for the work that they do. Businesses can invariably find budget for the things that really matter to them – and it is my opinion that the people who work here should matter to us above all else. With that in mind, if you’re an organisation who isn’t yet a Living Wage Foundation employer… perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why.

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