These are unprecedented times and we are living under extraordinary circumstances that challenge us all on a daily basis – both personally and professionally. Companies are being forced to make tough decisions in the face of economic uncertainty. It would be easy for employers to justify simply focusing on day-to-day operations, getting through the crisis at hand. But, these circumstances present an opportunity for businesses and their leadership to differentiate themselves, reinforce their culture and reveal the heart of their company, simply by taking a moment to think about one thing: their employees.

Recently, C3 employees received an email from leadership announcing that the company has procured an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), in an effort “to help you and your family get professional support and guidance, with the idea to make life a little easier.” What struck me most about this message is that it was an acknowledgement by our company’s leaders that we all may be struggling in a variety of ways, and that our employer is thinking proactively about us and our families as human beings, and about how it can help support us.

From a spouse whose employment has been affected by the current economic landscape and kids who may be experiencing anxiety due to their new learning environment, to those who live alone without a support system and just need someone to talk to, the EAP provides a variety of services to everyone in an employee’s household. It’s not just about mental health services, though they are an important component. The professional support and guidance offered ranges from legal services to financial advice. There has even been a rise in identity theft as criminals target the vulnerable; the EAP can help with that, too. Our current situation hits everyone in very personal, very different ways, and the EAP provides many avenues to get help – all at no cost to the employee.

I wasn’t surprised by the gesture. After all, our leaders have been putting meetings on our calendars each week, reserving time for one purpose only: to see how we are doing and what we need; that’s the only item on the agenda. The EAP is an extension of the values that led me to choose to work for C3 in the first place, because it’s a caring company. Judging by our most recent staff check-in, when several people went out of their way to thank leadership for thinking of them, I am certain I’m not the only one who feels this way.

“Just wanted to say thank you for this and the continued support!!!” C3 Personal Lines Client ManagerBrandi Filippone wrote in an email. “Between having the kids at home 24/7, sick friends and relatives, not being able to even hang out with friends and family…This has been a crazy time and to know we have support means everything.”

This kind of response just goes to show how much it means for an employer to take the time to stop and think from its employees’ perspectives – about how this is impacting them, what they are going through and how the company might be able to support them. Showing employees that you care, that you understand (and are going through the same things), and that you know this is impacting their lives and their families will have long-term benefits. When they feel supported, they’ll have a positive impression of leadership and the company in the future. This is especially important in a situation where you may be furloughing, because these are employees that you most likely want back. They want to know that you care for them, even in the midst of making hard decisions. If you treat them well and help take care of them now – if you show that compassion and understanding from their perspective – both your employees and you as an employer are going to be in a better position when this all turns around.

Many employers already offer EAP services, but may have been so preoccupied with other pressing business decisions that they haven’t had the chance to think about this aspect of employee support. Our clients rely on us to be strategic partners, and at a time like this, the simple act of reminding them to communicate with their workforce about the availability of existing assistance options can make a huge impact. For those companies that don’t offer an EAP but are interested in procuring one for their employees, like C3 did, we are here to help.

We’re all in this together, and we will get through this. When we come out on the other side, will you have taken the time to reveal the heart of your company and show true leadership to your employees under the most difficult of circumstances?

Tracey Best
Client Executive, Employee Benefits