Managing Through the Economic Crisis:
What Companies Are Doing to Help Their Employees
Updated on 01/15/09
We hope the following examples of what businesses are doing to support their employees during these difficult economic times will be helpful. To enter your own submission, fill out the form by clicking here. This portion of the Web site will be updated frequently.
For media inquiries please contact Kelly Sakai at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions, please contact Carol Bryce-Buchanan at email@example.com.
(Companies are listed alphabetically)
Alcoa recently launched a “Career Transition Website” in order to assist their employees who have been affected by layoffs. The website provides information about:
- resume writing
- job search resources (job boards, social networks, etc.)
- job listings from other companies and agencies that have contacted Alcoa directly
- upcoming events (webinars, career fairs, etc.)
- how to request a consultation with a career specialist from Alcoa’s Staffing Center of Expertise
Alcoa shares the site’s address (http://www.aacareertransition.com/) with their affected employees as part of the exit process. They are able to access the website anytime from any computer that has Internet access. Alcoa’s intent is to update the site on a regular basis so that the information (particularly specific job postings) remains current.
In addition to helping their affected employees, the website has also given their in-house recruiters (whose workloads have been greatly reduced in these times of limited hiring) a new sense of purpose and passion about their jobs. They enjoy being able to help by offering the one-on-one consultations with the exiting employees. Alcoa’s recruiters are also conducting monthly webinars on the same topics now for their employees.
They are increasing their work at home program and using their EAP programs and vendors to educate their employees. There are a lot of inherent benefits within the EAP programs that go unnoticed by their employees in easier times.
DELOITTE & TOUCHE
Strategic networking workshop helps Deloitte professionals continue their professional development and succeed in challenging times
All professionals know how to shake hands, exchange business cards, and engage in casual conversation. But when it comes to strategic networking, many of them could use some guidance. Since this business skill is particularly critical in today’s economic environment, Deloitte hosted a series of interactive strategic networking workshops tailored for our professionals. During the first quarter of 2009, some 250 Deloitte personnel in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania took part in a Deloitte-tailored workshop called Demystifying Networking: The Art of Building Strategic Relationships.
More people are signed up for workshops in New England and other regions this spring. During the half-day workshop, Trudy Bourgeois, President of the Center for Workforce Excellence provided insight on the importance of networking and strategic relationship management, examined the role relationships play in the changing business landscape, and identified ways to leverage networks internally and externally, virtually and in-person. She also encouraged participants to build a personal action plan.
The workshops are tailored to the needs of the participants. Many have reported that the sessions have helped them strengthen their networks and drive better business results. They also allow people to focus on their career path and enhance their marketability. Even though we’re in tough times, it doesn’t mean that their professional development has to go “on hold.”
Staying connected to employees during tough economic times
As early as February 2008, Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg, began communicating frequently to his people about the economy and what it means for Deloitte. The communications ranged from a succession of interactive email messages to an ongoing series of live town halls across the country. These discussions reflect Deloitte’s commitment to transparency—candid and forthright communications between their leadership and employees.
Transparency was, in fact, a driving motivation behind Barry Salzberg’s recent series of “Straight Talk” town hall meetings from coast to coast. During these meetings, he offered his insights on the impact of the economy as well as Deloitte’s continued commitment to developing their talent and serving their clients. Almost 10,000 people attended in person or dialed into the events, and transcripts from the Straight Talk sessions were posted on the Deloitte intranet site, for easy access by all of their professionals. Their people asked—and got straight answers—to questions about a variety of issues, ranging from the status of the business to workforce realignment to the status of their benefits. The success of the town hall series was so great that additional questions and answers, “Straight Answers from Barry,” are being posted online to ensure each person has a chance to be heard.
|EILEEN FISHER, INC.
- We have increased communication with employees and leaders at all levels regarding financial planning and status. Through our Internal Communications department, we share with all employees news briefs, business updates, and access to minutes from meetings of our Leadership Forum (a group of 20+ leaders that meets every three weeks). At our Company meeting in December, which brought together nearly half of our 800 employees, Eileen Fisher and the Finance Team talked about our business and answered questions from the audience. The meeting was videotaped and shared with nearly fifty stores, outlets and other sites across the country.
- We are exploring ways to increase community and connection so that we can better support one another. Every month a different small group of leaders visits one of our three main sites for an open meeting with up to 20 employees to discuss any topics people wish to bring up. We are in the process of setting up small groups of mid-level leaders to share with and learn from each other, coached by members of Leadership Forum, HR, or Leadership, Learning and Development.
- We are revisiting and refocusing company priorities for 2009.
- As a company, we are being as thoughtful as possible about ways to be more efficient and flexible. Everyone takes this seriously because we are partially employee owned. (We are participating in an Employee Stock Ownership Program.)
- We are soliciting and using suggestions from employees on cost-saving measures. For instance, at the December Company Meeting, we gathered over 250 suggestions for cost-savings. These fell into nine main categories ranging from travel and staffing to use of technology and new ideas for our product, which were shared with employees in our newsletter “EF Link.”
- We have invited a financial educator to deliver workshops and Webinars on financial wellness for employees, five sessions each of a series of three different workshops. We have already held five sessions of the first workshop in the series, one at each of our three main sites and two Webinars in the evening to reach retail employees across the country. The first workshop focused on understanding your own financial situation and your credit score. The next workshops will address saving, investing, retirement and making choices in the Eileen Fisher 401K program.
- We are reminding employees of the value of our EAP as a resource for information and support on financial and personal issues. Please follow this link to view the text of an e-mail to all employees.
|ERNST & YOUNG LLP
- In order to support their people at this difficult time, they realize that they must, “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” The communication addresses the following questions: “What is the vision and strategy of the firm in these volatile times? What is expected of our people to carry out the firm’s objectives? How will the firm maintain its culture of inclusiveness and flexibility, recognition and reward, and career development? How are people to be held accountable?” Communication is accomplished by:
- voice mail messages from leadership;
- Daily Connection articles;
- business unit and team discussions and ‘all hands’ Web casts; and
- e-mail messages, etc.
- They are also refreshing existing services for their people, such as their:
- recognition and rewards program;
- EY Personal Financial Planning;
- pre-tax commuter benefits;
- EY Assist; and
- Back-up child and adult care.
- They are extending program offerings, such as:
- extra back-up babysitting reimbursement;
- group legal plan;
- pre-tax commuter benefits;
- EY Discounts (95% of employees are using these shopping discounts now);
- College Coach, with more of an emphasis on paying for college; and
- a Stress Management Toolkit.
- And adding new resources for their people, such as:
- Stress Buster blog;
- “Staying Focused and Healthy in FY ’09” training module;
- Discussion groups for People Consultants who are on the front line for addressing the myriad concerns of their people; and
- Daily Connection articles on financial counseling, energy savings, shopping tips, etc.
- Ernst & Young’s “people professionals” will continue to challenge the status quo and find new ways to support their people in this crisis.
|FIRST ALLIANCE CREDIT UNION
A couple of their employees have had spouses laid off, hours cut back or had to take salary cuts. As a financial institution they can and have consolidated loans to minimize debt payments and/or extended or suspended payment due dates. This gives families time to seek new employment, work through a new budget and to otherwise adjust to their changed circumstances. They encourage employers to suggest that employees who are struggling go directly to their financial institution, candidly state their circumstances and ask them for similar assistance.
|HARRIS, ROTHENBERG INTERNATIONAL, LLC
They have a “financial uncertainty page” (http://public.harrisrothenberg.net/). The main focus is dealing with stress in the current situation.
- They have integrated EAP and Work Life programs that they launched on July 1st.
- They are finding high utilization of the financial legal services.
- Work Life is partnering with their education finance group to do a college savings presentation. This is a service they offer for parents and high schools across the country, but now are using for their own employees.
- All programs for employees have to be budget neutral, and they are grouping all the JPMorgan resources and programs by themes. Their theme for January 2009 (like a New Year’s resolution), for example, is “Putting First Things First” around finances, health, wellness and work life through Web materials, seminars, tips, etc. For more information, visit their Employee Assistance and Work-Life Web site: www.eapandworklife.com.
- Communications about these programs will not only go out to a broad audience, but also business by business since they are very decentralized.
- They are putting together a series called “Works for Me” that will include examples and stories to help people visualize how to use the services they offer.
KPMG remains firmly committed to being a great place to work and build a career. KPMG continues to use innovative programs and perks to help its employees feel supported and motivated during these turbulent times.
Reflecting the current environment, KPMG has recently expanded or introduced programs and perks such as:
- New “Thank You” Award – Through our existing Encore Recognition program that allows people to send an electronic thank you note - for no cost. There has been tremendous use of the award since its introduction late last year.
- Enhanced Electronic Training Offerings – To help people continue to develop their careers while controlling costs of in-person training.
- Guest Speakers - Our Local Action Councils continue to invite guest speakers to lunch and learn programs on a wide range of topics – many of these speakers are part of our existing contract with a third-party vendor so there’s no additional costs. Topics include parenting, internet safety, stress management, elder care and others.
- Community Service - Continued commitment to our communities, sponsoring several community events – which make people feel good, like they are helping others and proud of the firm they work for.
- Super Bowl challenge - A recent event where more than 8,000 employees participated in a contest where participants had to answer questions about the Super Bowl. As the prize for those who answered all the challenge’s questions correctly, the firm donated $100 in the name of each winner to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of his or her choice.
- Employee Discounts – Adding to many existing vendor relationships benefiting KPMG people, the firm recently introduced the opportunity for employees to participate in a new discount on Chrysler vehicles.
- Carpool Connection – A program to help employees find co-workers with whom to carpool to and from work.
- Expanded use of national meeting services online to deliver information on a variety of topics - Programs have included topics such as planning for the future and have also partnered with MS society on educational programs on adult onset disabilities. Have also conducted health fairs including free flu shots.
|MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Marriott International offers its employees (associates) a variety of financial supports:
- myARL – “My Assistance and Resources for Life” is a confidential consultation and referral service offering assistance on a wide range of work and personal life issues for associates and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Marriott has developed fliers highlighting some crucial topics (as some associates do not have access to computers in their work) including:
- Holiday Stress
- Emotional Stress and Self-Help
- The Subprime Mortgage Crisis: What Does It Mean?
- Understanding Adjustable Rate Mortgages
- Dealing with the Possibility of Foreclosure on Your Home
- Ideas for Living Within Your Means
- Resources for a Financial Emergency
- Three Money Traps to Avoid
- Couples and Money
- Managing Your Money After Divorce
- Marriott’s online and telephonic tools include:
- Budgeting Self Assessments (“Do You Have Debt Problems?”)
- Financial Calculators:
- How Much Can I Borrow?
- Loan Calculator
- Cars and Transportation:
- Automotive Affordability Calculator
- Collections and Credit:
- Credit Card Repayment Calculator
- Home Affordability Calculator
- Refinancing Calculator
- Investing for Retirement:
- IRA Savings Calculator
- Retirement Spending Calculator
- College Savings Calculator
- Saving and Investing:
- Savings Amount Calculator
- Credit Card Repayment
Marriott offers the opportunity for each associate to meet with a financial expert for a free 30 minute consultations on the phone or in person.
Marriott has refreshed their webinar series and created modules on “Financial Literacy” including how to deal with debt, dealing with the mortgage crisis, and the importance of budgeting.
Among Marriott associates there was a 10% increase in utilization of the Webinar Series on Financial Literacy in September 2008 and the concerns are around emotional needs and financial supports. Associates have requested more information on benefits at the benefit fairs and managers are asking for consultations to help them better assist employees.
Over the holiday season, as a gift to associates, Marriott is offering additional discounts to the Associate Rates for employees and their families and a 10% discounted gift card offer to use in the hotels or on holiday gifts.
Planning for 2009 includes revising the Benefit Guide to focus on helping associates:
- comparison among various health insurance plans, dental plans and other benefits for out-of-pocket costs;
- build their own prescriptions drug plans to lower costs;
- maximize the use of plans to their benefit;
- start or enhance spending accounts; and
- focus on savings by helping employees develop trust in banking institutions through use of the Marriott credit union (MEFCU) (available in the hotel where they work, free of charge and with no minimums) and through the use of Direct Deposit, Savings Bonds and Payroll Cards (a new addition to help associates move from living in a cash economy).
Other resources and supports Marriott will offer in 2009 include:
- commuter rideshare boards at headquarters;
- commuter benefits in some markets (subway discount cards); and
- expanding flex options in some locations (including compressed work weeks to save both employees and the company money).
|MERCK & CO., INC.
- They have shifted their college coaching to focus on how to finance a college education.
- They have also just launched a global flexible work program. In some parts of the globe where their employees are less familiar with the opportunity to work flexibly and a 12-14 hour day is common, this represents a major culture shift.
- The company is made up of several smaller groups each having different challenges at this time.
- They reopened “open enrollment” during December for benefits so that people feel more flexible; they can make changes in their allocations to reflect the times.
- They are planning to pilot occasional on-site EAP at some locations.
- They launched a pilot “sabbatical program” and are planning to position “unpaid sabbaticals” as another option for flexibility.
- They have asked themselves, “What is important to the company?” and Work Life integration—building a culture that enables employees to have both personal and professional success—remains a strong part of their vision. They remain committed to that vision and attempt to find inexpensive ways to continue to enhance their culture.
- As a decentralized company, they have a “Work Life ambassador” within each economic unit who acts as the Work Life advocate for the economic unit. This creates ownership at the unit level and continues to advance their culture of Work Life flexibility.
- Their Executive Operating Team has issued a “Declaration of Flexibility” that reaffirms their commitment to making work-life a success for all employees.
• They have had a “Coach on Call” program for a while but the issues brought up now usually include anxiety and pressure. This program provides a counseling resource during these difficult times.
|WELLSTAR HEALTH SYSTEM
The WellStar Cents program was developed to provide support and resources to assist the Wellstar workforce in successfully managing the stress associated with rising fuel costs and current economic pressures. It will be a component of the Work Life Services suite of services under the “financial support domain” and made available to all WellStar employees. Awareness of, access to and maximum utilization of the best options for employees will be introduced and facilitated through Communications and Education:
- The WellStar Cents initiative will be branded and easily identifiable for all staff as a place to capture information regarding services, programs, discounts and information.
- A WellStar Cents news bulletin or on-line web papers will provide an archive of information and education for retrieval.
- Their intranet sites, eSource and eSource Spotlight, provide information on best gas prices, etc.
- Their Partners employee newsletter features a regular WellStar Cents article, coupons, and/or other notifications of new offerings.
- They have revised eLeadership Wellstar, the leadership publication.
- They have developed special screen savers.
- Wellstar is hosting Town Halls for employees.
The WellStar Cents program features:
- Health and wellness cost savings that allow employees to reduce or eliminate co-pays for some health screens and procedures; this aligns with employee wellness initiatives, encourages recommended annual health screens and potentially saves money by addressing health issues before they become cost issues; and
- Commuter savings including:
- WellStar Meetings On-line that allow for reductions in business travel within the WellStar geographic area through the “first option” use of teleconferencing and Web conferencing,
- alternative transit options including Wellstar Rides and
- fuel price locator such as “GasBuddy.com.”
- Increased use of workplace flexibility that involves measuring utilization, increasing manager training, formalizing policies, developing tools and forms, relying on the resources of “When Work Works” (www.whenworkworks.com a program of Families and Work Institute) and exploring opportunities for work redesign.
- Personal financial assistance services including:
- financial education courses;
- personal financial portfolio planning;
- personal consultations;
- access through a “bank at work program” for no fee loans and mortgages,
- free income tax preparation assistance;
- Earned Income Tax Credits which are ensured through the utilization of
VITA assisting their low wage earners and entry level employees; and
- use of the Employee Contribution Fund which is being rebranded and redesigned.
- Discount and purchasing programs including:
- WellStar Discount Program offering arrangements with Kroger, BJ’s and Sam’s Club as well as those vendors regularly featured on the Discount Program Sheet. Where additional advantage can be negotiated for WellStar employees, these discounts will be passed along to the workforce.
- Purchasing Power a full service provider of voluntary employee computer, electronics, appliances and other products purchasing program, via payroll deduction.
Their plans for 2009 include:
- Enhance the robust website to assist employees in finding savings through energy efficiencies with links to sites with service providers, etc.
- Provide on line calculators for fuel savings and contributions to the environment through clean commuting.
- Share employee stories of services used, value gained, etc.
- Measure the value through employee engagement surveys, data collection of utilization of services, and more.
WorldatWork offers support during these turbulent times to employees (and their families) in a variety of ways.
Communication is essential to reduce anxiety and answer questions. On a regular basis, WorldatWork leaders have been sending messages via the internal Intranet, e-mails, staff meetings and one-to-one discussions about the economic impact on the organization. These messages are clear and honest, and something each employee can go back and read or view online often.
A priority has been set, and communicated, by management that certain things may be cut, but the last resort is to cut jobs. Employees recently enjoyed the holiday party, but the celebration was not as grand, and raffle prizes were smaller. Also, instead of each department holding individual holiday celebrations, departments were encouraged to adopt a deserving local family as a team exercise. The experience helped employees recognize how much we already have compared to many others.
On the Intranet, WorldatWork has been offering weekly financial tips that range from saving at the gas pump to preparing for a child's college tuition. The Intranet is also the place where employees can access a valued benefit, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), to seek financial, legal, emotional and relationship support. Webinars are frequently available, with one upcoming called "Financial Fitness: Living Within a Realistic Budget."
To promote savings as well as a green lifestyle, WorldatWork offers incentives for carpooling, riding public transportation or any other alternative way of commuting with bimonthly raffles. And with a flexible work environment that allows for teleworking, flexible scheduling and more, employees can take care of personal business without affecting their work projects or overall career advancement.