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hands holding red heart on blue background, health care, love, organ donation, family insurance and CSR concept, world heart day, world health day

Compassionate leadership

Getty

Things are hard right now. But there are some things that are making me smile including, Zoom dance parties, puppies frolicking in an aquarium and inspiring companies responding to COVID-19 with genuine compassion. 

It’s been comforting to see companies meet the COVID-19 challenges with such creativity, heart and kindness. It’s easy to be a leader when things are going well, but much tougher to lead when things are going badly. Compassionate brands across the country are stepping up. From Clif Bar donating three million bars to health care workers, to Cut Spike Distillery making medical grade hand sanitizer for local hospitals or those organizations like Hilton where CEOs are foregoing or lowering their salaries to take care of frontline employees, there are so many uplifting examples.

In these uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. How businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behavior including, engagement, productivity and loyalty. Health and well-being, financial stability, and job security are top concerns for employees right now and employers can help address those fears in meaningful ways.

One company that is helping their employees navigate this new reality is Ally Financial. I had a chance to talk with Kathie Patterson, chief human resources officer last week at Ally, to learn how they are taking care of their people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Kathie, Ally CEO Jeff Brown was quick to provide leadership, and reacted by showing care and generosity to their employees. Ally moved most of their workforce of 8,700 to work from home in just a few days, including hustling equipment to people who need it and getting them set up with internet. This is no easy feat for a financial company, and I am kind of amazed at what Ally was able to accomplish so quickly. 

“This pandemic has shown how critical it is to embrace our humanity, be understanding and caring — and that holds true for companies, too. Make sure ‘human’ is prioritized in Human Resources. At Ally, we’ve been driven by what’s right — just like our mantra to ‘Do It Right’ — and we will do whatever we can to support the well-being of customers and employees. Our already-existing financial, medical and mental health benefits were well designed to help employees through this crisis — and we further expanded our offerings to include additional services, like free telemedicine consults, that are tailored to this specific crisis. Everything we do is through the lens of care and support. That’s the culture of Ally. When you get culture right everything else falls into place and there is no better time to let that shine than right now,” said Kathie.

Ally also immediately sent employees home with pay that self-identified as high-risk according to the CDC guidelines, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.

Some other employee benefits include:

Ally has really gone above and beyond to show incredible support to their employees and their families during this stressful, scary and uncertain time. What can other companies learn from Ally? Prioritize employee well-being with these five tips. 

Focus on Mental Health

Social distancing is creating a lot of anxiety and stress. So be sure to highlight employee assistance programs or other mental health apps. Considering offering mindfulness training sessions. Use a free site like Mindfulness Exercises to walk participants through a guided meditation. 

Offer Financial Assistance

If possible, find creative ways to support employees who may be struggling financially. CivicScience, Mark Cuban, and others have announced that they will be reimbursing employees for purchasing lunch and coffee from local small businesses to encourage small business support during the pandemic.

Encourage Virtual Workouts

Now more than ever, it’s important to encourage employees to move, especially if they are sitting inside all day. There are plenty of free resources that you can point employees to, like YouTube, to find yoga or other workouts that can be done in home, or encouraging people to take walks outside at safe distances.

Host a Gratitude Challenge

When it feels like everything is going awry, that’s the time to look at the flip side. What’s actually going right? People who experience gratitude cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health, including lower blood pressure and better immune function. Consider launching a gratitude challenge. 

Stay Connected 

We all need to feel a human connection. Schedule “coffee breaks” with random team members. Brew a cup of coffee or tea and have a casual meeting via your favorite online meeting tool. Spend this time catching up and talking about other things than work.

Consumers and employees want to know they are working with companies doing good. Discerning companies that have heart will take this time to do genuine good, whether for their employees or communities, and will reap the benefits when this storm has passed.


hands holding red heart on blue background, health care, love, organ donation, family insurance and CSR concept, world heart day, world health day

Compassionate leadership

Getty

Things are hard right now. But there are some things that are making me smile including, Zoom dance parties, puppies frolicking in an aquarium and inspiring companies responding to COVID-19 with genuine compassion. 

It’s been comforting to see companies meet the COVID-19 challenges with such creativity, heart and kindness. It’s easy to be a leader when things are going well, but much tougher to lead when things are going badly. Compassionate brands across the country are stepping up. From Clif Bar donating three million bars to health care workers, to Cut Spike Distillery making medical grade hand sanitizer for local hospitals or those organizations like Hilton where CEOs are foregoing or lowering their salaries to take care of frontline employees, there are so many uplifting examples.

In these uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. How businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behavior including, engagement, productivity and loyalty. Health and well-being, financial stability, and job security are top concerns for employees right now and employers can help address those fears in meaningful ways.

One company that is helping their employees navigate this new reality is Ally Financial. I had a chance to talk with Kathie Patterson, chief human resources officer last week at Ally, to learn how they are taking care of their people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Kathie, Ally CEO Jeff Brown was quick to provide leadership, and reacted by showing care and generosity to their employees. Ally moved most of their workforce of 8,700 to work from home in just a few days, including hustling equipment to people who need it and getting them set up with internet. This is no easy feat for a financial company, and I am kind of amazed at what Ally was able to accomplish so quickly. 

“This pandemic has shown how critical it is to embrace our humanity, be understanding and caring — and that holds true for companies, too. Make sure ‘human’ is prioritized in Human Resources. At Ally, we’ve been driven by what’s right — just like our mantra to ‘Do It Right’ — and we will do whatever we can to support the well-being of customers and employees. Our already-existing financial, medical and mental health benefits were well designed to help employees through this crisis — and we further expanded our offerings to include additional services, like free telemedicine consults, that are tailored to this specific crisis. Everything we do is through the lens of care and support. That’s the culture of Ally. When you get culture right everything else falls into place and there is no better time to let that shine than right now,” said Kathie.

Ally also immediately sent employees home with pay that self-identified as high-risk according to the CDC guidelines, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.

Some other employee benefits include:

Ally has really gone above and beyond to show incredible support to their employees and their families during this stressful, scary and uncertain time. What can other companies learn from Ally? Prioritize employee well-being with these five tips. 

Focus on Mental Health

Social distancing is creating a lot of anxiety and stress. So be sure to highlight employee assistance programs or other mental health apps. Considering offering mindfulness training sessions. Use a free site like Mindfulness Exercises to walk participants through a guided meditation. 

Offer Financial Assistance

If possible, find creative ways to support employees who may be struggling financially. CivicScience, Mark Cuban, and others have announced that they will be reimbursing employees for purchasing lunch and coffee from local small businesses to encourage small business support during the pandemic.

Encourage Virtual Workouts

Now more than ever, it’s important to encourage employees to move, especially if they are sitting inside all day. There are plenty of free resources that you can point employees to, like YouTube, to find yoga or other workouts that can be done in home, or encouraging people to take walks outside at safe distances.

Host a Gratitude Challenge

When it feels like everything is going awry, that’s the time to look at the flip side. What’s actually going right? People who experience gratitude cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health, including lower blood pressure and better immune function. Consider launching a gratitude challenge. 

Stay Connected 

We all need to feel a human connection. Schedule “coffee breaks” with random team members. Brew a cup of coffee or tea and have a casual meeting via your favorite online meeting tool. Spend this time catching up and talking about other things than work.

Consumers and employees want to know they are working with companies doing good. Discerning companies that have heart will take this time to do genuine good, whether for their employees or communities, and will reap the benefits when this storm has passed.

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