Whether you know it or not, there are likely caregivers on your team who are facing a financial crisis right now. One or more may be on the brink of homelessness. Others may be in danger of having their utilities turned off. Food may be scarce for caregivers with young children at home. Others may need expensive auto repairs to keep working a job that requires driving a personal car.
Many caregivers worked paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic. Now, the paychecks may be smaller, childcare costs (due to schools being closed) chip away at the budget. And it may not be easy to find a second job.
In 2019, well before the pandemic, Allison Omens wrote, “One in four adults said they were either ‘just getting by’ or ‘finding it difficult to get by.’ Many people are one missed paycheck or flat tire away from financial distress. Four in ten adults would struggle to come up with just $400 in the face of a financial emergency.”
Why should you care about your employees’ finances?
Financial stress directly impacts employee performance and can increase the likelihood of turnover. In one IFEBP survey, researchers found that financially stressed employees are two times more likely to quit their job (or job hop) in an attempt to improve their income.
How can you help?
Supporting caregivers through financial crises does not have to break the bank. In fact, there are several zero or very low-cost ways you can help. Here are a few:
1. Hardship Loans
Offer employees access to a one-time, interest-free “hardship loan.” For example, one company offers a $1000 interest-free loan to employees. The employee completes a loan application and authorizes repayment via payroll deduction. The repayment period is 12 months, which equates to $42 over 24 pay periods. If the employee leaves the company before the loan is fully repaid, the remaining balance is deducted from the final paycheck.
2. Salary Advances
Another company offers salary advances, upon request, to employees experiencing financial challenges. In this instance, you can choose the amount of salary you are willing to advance (i.e., one week’s pay, two weeks’ pay) and set clear expectations on how and when the loan is to be repaid.
3. Serve Meals
Working parents with children who struggle to put food on the table may prioritize feeding the kids over themselves. If you think this is happening, arrange to serve at least one meal a day at the office and invite caregivers to stop by before their assignment. Breakfast would be the easiest and least expensive meal. It could include fresh fruit, instant oatmeal, protein bars, juices, and coffee. Another option is to partner with a local food bank to ensure food boxes are available to employees in need.
4. Cash or Gift Cards
While it’s always nice to get a Starbucks gift card, it’s not always practical for people who are struggling financially. Instead, design an incentive program that includes rewards of cash or gift cards intended for practical items such as groceries or gas.
5. Employer-Sponsored Childcare
Partner with a local daycare to get reduced rates for employees and help cover the cost of childcare. Or, offer employees a $50 stipend for each shift they work to help cover childcare costs during that shift.
6. Explore Charitable Grants
For nearly two decades, E4E Relief has been dedicated to providing charitable grants on behalf of compassionate companies that wish to support their employees facing disaster or personal hardships. E4E Relief’s COVID-19 response provides charitable grants for life necessities, offering a simplified, streamlined solution to supporting employees impacted by the pandemic.
7. Create a Grant Circle
A “Grant Circle” is an emergency relief fund powered by Canary. It’s designed to help organizations offer protection and security to their employees during personal financial hardship. With the help of a third party such as Canary, your organization can establish an emergency relief fund right now so you can respond to employees’ financial needs as they arise.
8. Help Families of Fallen Healthcare Heroes
We hope it never comes to this, but if you lose a caregiver to this pandemic, you can help the caregiver’s family by assisting them in applying for a grant from the Brave of Heart Fund. The Fund is designed to provide financial support to the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives to COVID-19. Home care workers’ families are eligible to apply. Grants range from $15,000 to $60,000.