As we know all too well, the global coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has impacted far more than our health; COVID-19 has hindered personal, professional and economic vitality for many people as well.
Businesses saw this firsthand in 2020, both in their own financial uncertainty and among the employees they serve. Employees are the lifeblood of every organization, and as many households struggled to make ends meet, compounded by unexpected hardships, companies realized the urgency of an employee population in need.
Many of those companies rose to action, leveraging employee relief programs, to offer rapid financial assistance in the form of charitable grants. Now, new research shows just how life-changing those grants have been, both in promoting positive emotional well-being and staving off negative events.
Through our work with companies around the world, E4E Relief has distributed relief grants that have provided hundreds of thousands of individuals the opportunity to move forward, both personally and professionally, after hardships, including the recent global pandemic. Earlier this year, we engaged our research partner, Canary, on a grant recipient survey of our clients’ employees. The purpose of this research was to understand and quantify the impact of the relief grants over the past year. The results confirmed what we’ve long known to be true: corporate relief programs create a direct, positive impact not just on employees in need, but on the companies they support.
The E4E Relief 2020 COVID-19 Grants Impact Study collected responses from 8,710 individuals who received employee relief grants between March and October of 2020. Of those, 68% are women, and 59% are under the age of 40. When it comes to ethnicity, 39% identify as white or Caucasian, and 27% identify as Black or African-American. 58% of those surveyed reported a household income of less than $50,000 per year.
As expected, COVID-19 is the largest reason for grant requests in this study, with more than 94% of grantees selecting “Infectious Disease Outbreak (Epidemic/Pandemic)” as a precipitating event on their grant application. About 50% of those surveyed received grants of less than $1,000, 39% received between $1,000 and $1,999 and 11% received more than $2,000.
The impact for the employers creating the program
The survey also indicates an immediate impact to employee satisfaction and loyalty. The overwhelming majority of respondents (87%) reported that receiving the grant improved how they feel about working for their employer. Without the stress of providing the most basic human needs for themselves and their families, employees are able to come to work more focused, more prepared and more engaged with the tasks at hand. And notably, 10% of respondents were able to avoid being late or absent from work as a result of receiving their grants.
The impact of grants on employees’ emotional wellbeing
With relief grants, they provide immediate relief from unforeseen situations out of an employee’s control. Our survey shows the grants we provided over this past year had the intended effect.
Among those surveyed, 75% said the grants they received provided breathing room to figure out next steps; 73% felt less stressed; 20% felt less alone; and 18% were able to direct more attention to their work. Others reported that the grants allowed them to direct more attention to their personal relationships and get back to where they were financially before needing the grant.
The impact of grants on employees’ financial well-being
Relief grants provide employees with much-needed funds, but more than that, they help prevent the compounding nature of crisis. As our survey shows, when employees make payments on time, they avoid late fees. They keep their lights on. They stay in their homes, and they keep food on the table.
Among the grant recipients surveyed, 50% avoided late fees on at least one bill; 38% avoided utility or service shut-offs or disruptions; 38% avoided skipping meals or not buying enough food; and 20% avoided eviction or foreclosure. About 13% reported their grants kept them from skipping medical care or falling behind on prescriptions. And notably, for the businesses providing the grants, 10% of respondents were able to avoid being late or absent from work as a result of receiving their grants.
What’s more, 84% of grantees reported that their financial situation at the time of the survey is better or the same than it was pre-hardship.
What this means for employee relief
Progress is being made every day to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, but this will not be the last crisis to impact employees at companies around the world. This survey shows the good that comes when businesses rally around their employees and rise to respond to unprecedented needs. Employee relief programs are not a nice-to-have. COVID-19 has proven they are indeed a business imperative, with countless benefits to both employees and employers alike. They provide a lifeline when your employees need it most, which is good for people, good for business and good for each other.