Rapid Employee Relief in Disasters: How companies can provide timely and compassionate support to employees in their time of need

When disaster strikes, timing is everything, and the best kind of relief is the kind that comes fast.

Disaster relief organizations understand that needs begin before the storm arrives, through evacuation orders, and last until homes are rebuilt or are safe to inhabit. Whether it’s a hurricane, a tornado, a typhoon or a flood, these organizations mobilize and are ready to fill whatever needs they can. Relief and recovery efforts are powerful, and yet they are often not enough as the extent of the destruction takes shape. That leaves a void that companies can help fill for employees impacted by disaster and hardship – and  how quickly they can provide that support makes all the difference.

As we head into 2021 Atlantic hurricane and wildfire season in the northern hemisphere, the need for safeguarding vulnerable employees becomes more pressing each day. Companies of all sizes wrestle with questions such as:

  • How do you ensure your company is prepared to lend a hand when the unexpected happens?
  • How do you allocate the right people and the right resources to respond to the unknown?
  • What will government entities and insurance companies do, and where will they leave gaps?
  • Can employee relief become a team effort, giving employees across your organization the opportunity to support one another in times of need?

As you wrestle with the answers to these questions, you may find yourself exploring whether a third-party employee relief program provider is right for your company.

Independent, third-party relief organizations bring expertise and experience that is tremendously valuable should your organization choose to implement a dedicated employee relief program to solve for rapid relief needs. They can safeguard a company from the risk associated with determining which employees receive how much money, and they can save time, resources and headaches. They create readiness plans that are activated in disaster with the people, process and technology necessary to handle disaster requests at scale.  At the same time, third-party relief organizations can increase your potential for impact, helping needed financial relief land in the hands of employees faster than any other approach.

Whether it’s navigating a global pandemic, battling a regional disaster or supporting an employee through personal hardships, preparation is key. Companies who invest in relief programs can testify that rapid relief is good for people, good for business and good for each other.  When distressed employees feel taken care of, they will be able to focus energy elsewhere and contribute productively to their work.

Here are three reasons why using a third-party provider is a good option when it comes to employee relief.

  1. Eliminate complexity, focus on empathy. From international, federal and state regulations and compliance, eligibility requirements, to day-to-day operations and fund distributions, the work that goes into setting up relief programs can quickly become overwhelming. A third-party provider comes to the table with dedicated experience in the work of employee relief and a thorough understanding of all the intricacies — provided you choose an organization with a strong track record. This gives your organization the opportunity to focus on compassion in crisis, building out strong communications to teammates and elevating employee engagement through fundraising to support their peers around the world.
  2. Rapid, digital payments. Speed is the name of the game when it comes to employee relief. A  third-party provider can help you streamline the process of getting much-needed funds into the hands of your employees in a way that’s both fast and secure. Third-party relief organizations can provide automated employment verification to prevent fraud. They can ensure sensitive data stays confidential to protect the privacy of your employees. They can eliminate the complexities that can arise when grant distributions are left to in-house committees or put on the plate of an already overworked HR professional because of their ability to scale to meet the moment. For instance, E4E Relief allows approved, affected individuals to receive money as quickly as 48 hours after submission through digital disbursement.
  3. Around-the-clock coverage. Companies have choices when it comes to employee relief. They can implement a reactive approach, dedicating resources to the effort as needed — i.e. when disaster strikes. They can appoint an in-house team to lead the effort. Or they can choose to do nothing at all. A third-party relief organization is in the disaster business — E4E Relief processed over 142,000 applications and $103 million dollars in individual grants in 2020 alone — and having an experienced team to scale in crisis can save time and money. In addition, the experience for your employees will be stronger if they have access to mobile-friendly applications or 24/7 contact centers.

In the end, that’s what you want: a seamless experience for the impacted employee, a powerful, proactive response on behalf of your organization, and a business that is able to support its most valuable asset: its people.

Looking to start your own employee relief fund?

Employee relief funds can solve for many different problems that a company or individual may face. E4E Relief and Canary recently conducted research that showed 73% of respondents felt more positively towards their employer because they were provided an employee relief program. We rounded up some content published that can help you get started with creating and managing an employee relief fund:

4 steps for starting an employee relief fund – Planning ahead and starting the conversation with executive leadership about the potential impact is the fast way to get your fund off the ground. These four steps can help you get started.

Corporate Foundations and Grantmaking Toolkit – Companies active in CSR are familiar with disaster relief. Disaster Relief is a great way to get employees engaged to enable them to make a difference and employee assistance relief is not different. Employees can make donations directly to a fund that supports an employee assistance program. Learn more about setting up the program structure, funding and donation process, and application process in this toolkit.