In this two-part blog series, we’ll explore the technology that is revolutionising customer service delivery in government. In our first installment, we examine the technology transformation from the perspective of back-office processes.
These days, most of what we see and hear on an hourly basis is bad news. Well, we’d like to change that, even if only for a few minutes. Hopefully, this uplifting story of a nonprofit called E4E Relief – a PowerObjects client – and the work they are doing for their clients during this global crisis can be a bright spot in your day. We know it’s an inspiration for us at PowerObjects, and we’re truly honored to be helping E4E Relief support their clients and employees around the globe, now more than ever…
We’ve all heard the phrase “living paycheck to paycheck,” but do we stop to think about what it really means? Many households earn just enough money in their paychecks to carry them through until they get their next paycheck – a week, two weeks, or a month later. For these families, the stress is compacted when there is any unexpected expense resulting from a disaster or hardship that is often out of their control. Nevertheless, it’s the reality for many of us, especially right now as we navigate life in this pandemic.
But what do those of us living paycheck to paycheck actually do when a real disaster strikes? Let’s set aside the emergency tows and occasional broken bones and instead consider truly dire emergencies. For example, what about the cost of an emergency two-night stay in a hotel following a domestic abuse incident? Or all of the expenses related to tornado damage that aren’t covered by insurance? Well, it’s for crises like these – and many more – that programs like Employee Relief Funds exist.
Also known as an Employee Assistance Fund or Employee Crisis Fund, an Employee Relief Fund is a program offered by many employers to help their employees cope with unexpected hardships or disasters that place undue financial stress on them and their families. This type of program empowers compassionate businesses to support their workforces financially – above and beyond those weekly paychecks – during individual crises big and small.
Quite often, Employee Relief Funds are operated by a third-party partner that manages the business’s ongoing contributions to the fund and creates the operating mechanisms to run the programs. These partners are responsible for reviewing the applications for relief that are submitted by a company’s employees and then making the difficult case-by-case grant determinations. Outsourcing this to a trusted partner ensures employee confidentiality and protects the company and its employees from any potential bias, favoritism, or conflict of interest in the decision-making process. Employee Relief Fund providers operate as non-profits because the grants from their programs are governed by the Internal Revenue Code as charitable and a well-defined set of guidelines that these groups are set up to manage.
One of the very best of these non-profit third-party partners in the Employee Relief Fund space is E4E Relief. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, E4E Relief has a diverse client base, including many Fortune 100 and 500 businesses, and manages millions in grants for these clients. PowerObjects has been the proud technology partner of E4E Relief for nearly two years. We implemented our custom PortalBuilder solution that sits on top of Dynamics 365 that allows E4E to quickly and easily spin up a new branded employee relief program portal. “Quite literally, our investment in D365 through PowerObjects has transformed our business and our ability to provide relief to thousands of people in crisis,” states Holly Welch Stubbing, CEO of E4E Relief. “The technology has enabled our Business Continuity Plan to operate in this environment and the automation of our reporting for customers is simply the best on the market.” It’s an innovative solution that we at PowerObjects are very proud of – in the case of E4E Relief and its applicants, it provides an excellent applicant experience and creates efficiency for a non-profit firm doing really important work.
And speaking of really important work… consider the unexpected hardships associated with a global pandemic that is impacting millions of people who become critically ill and putting millions out of work. COVID-19 is indeed the source of financial hardships on an unprecedented global level, meaning that Employee Relief Fund programs are beginning to see hundreds of thousands of applications for assistance. By mid-March, in fact, daily applications received by the companies with whom E4E Relief works increased by as much as 11,000% – practically overnight.
One of the promises E4E Relief makes to its clients is “we will scale to meet our clients’ and their employees' needs in times of personal and large-scale crises.” COVID-19 certainly qualifies as a large-scale crisis, so it is critically important that E4E Relief find a way to quickly scale to meet this staggering increase in applications for relief.
Fortunately, the PowerObjects team supporting the innovative portal technology has a tremendous working relationship with the E4E Relief team. The two teams treat each other like family, in fact, so when COVID-19 emerged as a global crisis of the magnitude that has the potential to simply overrun and overwhelm technology infrastructures (see your state’s unemployment office, for example), PowerObjects’ entire E4E Relief team dropped everything and immediately jumped in to help. “Thank goodness we had a lot of experience navigating solution delivery with Power Objects because the closely connected relationship has made it possible for us to get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time to provide needed relief,” says Linda Terrell, Vice President & Director, IT and Operations. “I’m really grateful.”
From developers and solution architects to senior members of leadership, it was all hands on deck to bolster the behind-the-scenes technology that runs these portals.
The collective team worked long hours in the final weeks of March – coding well into the nights and over the weekends to quickly beef up E4E Relief’s technology infrastructure to ensure they can continue handling a volume of requests that is crippling other providers in the channel. Times of crisis can truly bring out the best in all of – as individuals, as businesses, and as partnerships, we pull together to pull through.
As Oscar Sadder, Deputy General Manager at PowerObjects and the leader of the team that designed and built the transformational PortalBuilder, said: “E4E Relief allows businesses to have and maintain corporate responsibility during this tumultuous crisis, so to be on the front lines with them, ensuring that they have and maintain the portals and technology infrastructure to keep hundreds of Employee Relief Funds operational is truly gratifying. I’m honored and humbled to be working so closely with a company that is literally making life-and-death differences in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people during this deadly pandemic.”
And speaking of literally making life-and-death differences, click here for a recent article about the new Brave of Heart Fund, a $100M fund E4E Relief is administering to support the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives to COVID-19. It is an incredible effort by many to respond generously on behalf of the frontline heroes in this pandemic.
Well, that’s our story. You know the truth is, if you wade through and past all the bad news, there are so many heartwarming stories out there right now. Hopefully, you found this to be one of them – we know it is for us. It really is a privilege to be able to contribute in meaningful ways. PowerObjects may not be able to sew masks or build ventilators, but it sure feels good to know there are other ways to make a difference.
Please stay home and stay healthy. This too shall pass.