The COVID-19 crisis has rocked our economic world, and many businesses and communities are still reeling. Some industries, notably restaurants and personal service, have been forced to pivot in order to survive. We’ve seen some disheartening statistics (unemployment passing 20% as of 4/27/2020) but there are also inspiring stories of companies doing it right—helping their employees and communities weather the storm.
“Corporations are going to have to step up to address the resources that will be needed during the crisis, post-crisis and maybe going forward indefinitely. These are issues in real time.” — Paul Polizzotto, Givewith
Not only are we sharing inspiring examples of companies helping their employees and communities through COVID-19, we are suggesting ways you too can be a company that gets it right.
Continuing pay for workers
One of the most touching examples of looking out for employees is continuing pay for those who are unable to work due to coronavirus. Microsoft announced that they would continue to pay hourly workers, even if hours were cut, and Google is offering paid sick leave for temporary and contract employees. Disney provided five weeks of pay for all employees despite closing its parks, and is continuing full healthcare benefits and other support.
“We’re committed as a company to making public health our first priority and doing what we can to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19. We appreciate that what’s affordable for a large employer may not be affordable for a small business, but we believe that large employers who can afford to take this type of step should consider doing so.” — Brad Smith, President of Microsoft
- Continuing pay for those unable to work (if you can afford it)
- Continuing benefits if affordable
- Communicate transparently about any layoffs
- Get flexible with sick or family leave
Mark Cuban tweeted that employees in all of his companies will be reimbursed for lunch and coffee purchased at local businesses. Divvy also pledged support for local business while assisting our employees by granting each individual $150 in Divvy Spends Local funds. Our 350+ employees used those funds within their local communities. It may not seem like much, but every penny counts for small businesses in the age of COVID-19.
- Creating a thread of favorite local spots through internal communications
- Bringing in lunch for your employees from a local restaurant
- Highlighting your local business partners
Free access to content
With everyone (including children) stuck at home, there is a much higher need for resources to keep everyone entertained and sane. Educational resources are being provided by The Barbara Bush Foundation, Loom, Adobe, Labster, Naviance, Scholastic, and others free of charge to assist virtual educators and parents. LinkedIn and PluralSight have made selected courses free to access, allowing people to continue learning and improving during these uncertain times. Scribd has given free access to all magazines, ebooks, and audiobooks for 30 days.
“Reading can offer incredible comfort. Our goal is simply to ensure everyone has access to their favorite books, authors and quality content as we settle into our new normal for the next few weeks.” — Trip Adler, Scribd CEO
- Offering a service for free for a limited time
- Paying for a service or subscription for employee families
Hiring, raises, and employee support
While layoffs are the main headline, there are companies rapidly hiring employees to respond to market needs. Grocery stores, food delivery services, hardware stores, online shopping & delivery (Amazon, UPS), tutoring, and tech services like Zoom and Slack are rapidly hiring employees as they provide vital services during the current shutdowns.
They’re not only hiring–many are even giving their current workers a raise. Walmart and others are raising hourly wages $2-5 per hour for the important work employees are doing, as well as to attract the necessary workforce needed. In another vein, Shopify allocated $1,000 to all workers making the transition to work-from-home to enable them to make necessary purchases for a home office (desks, monitors, etc.). With school closures, child care has become a significant problem for those who are trying to work from home, so accommodating employers like PepsiCo are paying for childcare to make the work from home transition more functional (Facebook & Google are also offering emergency paid leave for employees who now have to care for family due to closures).
- Communicating pride in and appreciation for your employees
- Providing raises or other incentives, even if small
- Asking how you can help employees transition to working from home
- Assisting with childcare, at minimum increasing schedule flexibility & understanding
Transforming business operations
Many businesses have completed a metamorphosis in reaction to COVID-19, changing the way they do business or even changing their business entirely. A heartwarming example of this is a long list of distilleries that are now producing hand sanitizer. Fashion and textile companies have shifted from their normal production to instead sewing mountains of protective masks and medical gowns. Some hotels are offering daily or hourly rates to utilize hotel rooms as a workspace, saving some from unwanted conference call interruptions while they work from home. And of course we’ve seen restaurants, grocery stores, and many other businesses switch to curbside and delivery options to meet the needs of their communities and to keep people safe.
“We have a long history of supporting our communities and employees – this time is no different.” – Anheuser-Busch Brewery on Twitter
- Affected populations in your community–could you assist in any way?
- Changing the way you operate to better protect employees, customers, and communities, such as curbside delivery, touchless service, etc.
Mental health support
COVID-19 has introduced a lot of extra anxiety and fear into our lives, and companies that truly care about their employees have noted this. Starbucks is providing free mental health care through Lyra Health for their employees–up to 20 free sessions. Other resources are being expanded, such as the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, to serve those affected by fear, isolation, unemployment, and anything else coronavirus might bring.
- Reminding employees of mental health benefits
- Reaching out to employees via managers to assess mental health needs
- Sharing free mental health resources
In addition to providing masks and gowns, there are a multitude of other ways to support hospitals–and many businesses are stepping up. Dole is delivering fruit, smoothies, and other food to hospitals weekly, and Colgate is donating health and hygiene products hospital workers need. Hundreds of brands are offering free or discounted products and services to medical professionals.
- Hosting a blood drive
- Sharing volunteer opportunities, such as making masks
- Celebrating medial workers
Probably the most abstract but important way we’re seeing companies support their communities is through donations and pledges. Whether cash, goods, or profit percentage contributions, companies large and small are making sacrifices to help others during the chaos of COVID-19. You don’t have to look far to find a business giving back (Forbes is keeping a running list of “Coronavirus Champions”).
- Donating cash, goods, or services to hospitals & clinics
- Offering discounts for medical professionals
- Pledging a percentage of sales or profits to COVID-19 relief
It can seem scary out there, but we wanted to remind you that many, many businesses are getting it right. We hope that these incredible examples leave you feeling empowered to help your employees and communities. We’re all in this together, and Divvy is standing by to support your business in any way we can–fighting coronavirus together.