Our Trustee Hana Cornwall writes about the impact of a Living Wage and dependable pay on relationships. She also explains why Fastn is proud to be a Living Wage Employer.

At Fastn, we are on a critical mission for everyone in the UK to benefit from thriving and dependable family relationships. We know that economic pressures undermine thriving relationships: becoming a Living Wage Employer is core to our business of championing dependable relationships for all and aligns with Fastn's values. It also makes economic sense and is the right thing to do.

As our forthcoming white paper demonstrates, economic pressures and job security are key contributors to relationship strain. In fact the latest Life on Low pay polling from the Living Wage Foundation shows 30% people earning below a real Living Wage say the pay they received negatively affects their relationships with close family and friends, and 25% of parents said it negatively affected relationships with children. Over the past two years the impact of the pandemic has increased this pressure.

When asked about a wide range of family circumstances, informed by The Department for Work and Pensions Family Test, 70% of respondents we polled said that their family situation had changed during their current employment. Yet only 19% felt that their employers recognised this experience.

Fastn's research confirms that employees in senior positions and with higher bargaining power were significantly more likely to report that their employer supported their family to thrive than those in less secure and lower-paid roles. It suggests that employees have low expectations of their employers, perhaps heightened by insecurity created by the pandemic. However, almost 70% considered a potential employer's track record on supporting families to thrive to be an important factor when they were looking for future work. Responses were consistent between women and men.

The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development set out the definition of sustainability which now underpins Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) programmes and corporate responsibility commitments. Sustainability means meeting "the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Harvard neuroscientists confirm that healthy, dependable relationships wire our brains and increase our probability of attaining positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Using parents of young children as an example, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that as many as 35% of employee-parents report facing obstacles to their parenting because of work. In contrast, adults interviewed by the ONS during the pandemic, identified staying in touch with families and friends as the number one coping strategy, rising to 76% amongst adult carers.

The implication is that at its best, family improves the functioning and resilience of employees. Unsupportive employers failing to support families to thrive, undermine the 'serve and return' of successful relationship building, ultimately harming their own bottom line and the outcomes of future generations.

Our survey confirms the urgent need for a cultural shift toward improved understanding and support to families in the workplace. Families are dynamic, complex and diverse. Fair workplaces pay the living wage, recognise the reality of families and get better at listening, role modelling and offer genuine flexibility within compassionate cultures.

At Fastn, we aim to trigger reflection, thinking and action so that organisations better support families – of all shapes and sizes – to thrive.

We have confidence that employers will want to do the right thing and consider how they help employees to develop and sustain healthy and thriving relationships. Paying a living wage is a central tenet of this.

We have partnered with Working Families to celebrate employers that are recognising the full diversity of families in their workforce and encourage Living Wage Employers to consider applying for the 'Fastn Best For All Families Award'.

As a Living Wage Employer you are already taking steps to ease financial pressures on your employees and potential economic strain on relationships. This is a chance to gain recognition for your commitment to your employees and their families. You can read more information about the award - apply before 28 February 2022.

We hope that more of you will join with us in the critical mission of healthy, dependable relationships for all, we are calling on employers to review how you are creating a compassionate culture for all employees to ensure their and your needs are met.

Hana Cornwall – Fastn Trustee

Hana is Board sponsor for Fastn's Family Employment and Sustainability workstream and a Management Consultant at EY.

This blog was first published on the Living Wage Foundation website.