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Are Australia’s customer-facing workers facing a wellbeing crisis?

Looks at how employers can help employees get through the 'cost of living crisis'.

Written by
Josh Vernon

It’s difficult to escape the news at the moment — rising prices, stagnant wages and increasing interest rates are creating what some are calling a ‘cost of living crisis’. This comes off the back of customer-facing workers navigating through two years of economic uncertainty and office workers dealing with increased hours that are considered part of the package of working from home. 

However, for office workers the switch to working from home has had a silver lining in terms of not only time saved commuting but also money saved as well. A recent article in the Australian Financial Review said:

“A global study of 28,000 full-time workers, including 1042 Australians, by technology firm Cisco has found that four in five workers saved money while working from home. On average, they saved $216 a week as they cut spending on petrol, commuting, food and entertainment. The average increase in savings was 15.5 per cent.”

As fantastic as this is for office-based workers, the flip side is the average customer-facing worker in Australia is facing a penalty of $216 per week when compared to their office-based peers, despite in most cases being paid less for the work they do. This increases the wealth and opportunity divide even further.

The differing paths of office and customer-facing workers

Where office workers have been able to make savings working from home, many customer-facing workers have struggled with uncertainty during Covid-19. Lockdowns, reduced hours and isolation requirements have dealt significant blows to incomes and also workers’ abilities to plan ahead and forecast earnings.

A recent report from AMP found that retail workers are 64% more stressed about their finances than the national average and hospitality workers are 86% more stressed.

Similarly, Seven in 10 childcare educators say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ worry about their financial situation and more than eight in 10 say they would find it difficult to cover an unexpected expense of $400. 

In health care, one in two employees are ‘very worried’ about the finances, according to Blackdog Institute.

As we leave behind a lot of the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s customer-facing workers that are most dramatically affected by increases in prices given they often lack the flexibility that office workers have and also the security nets to fall back on in terms of savings.

Providing security and flexibility for customer-facing workers

There shouldn’t be a penalty for doing certain types of work, particularly not the types of work we’re all so reliant on such as care, hospitality and retail. This means in the midst of cost of living pressure, it’s essential that these workers are armed with the tools they need to make the most of their money.

At Wagestream, this isn’t just part of what we do. It’s all we do. It’s why I started Wagestream Australia and it’s why our feature set has expanded so that employees can:

While the current environment can be worrying for employers and employees alike, it does also present a huge opportunity for forward-thinking employers to provide the right kind of tools that can transform lives. One of those tools being the Wagestream app.

And we might be biased, but we’re also backed by data. Analysis of 1 million transactions and 2,200 anonymous surveys found that seven in 10 people feel more in control of their finances after using Wagestream.

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