Share Your Story: Company Reaches Out to Housebound Employees

March 26, 2020
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NYCM free lunch
​Welcome to the SHRM Online "Share Your Story" series, launched for HR professionals to share their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Our first story comes from Rebecca Kirby and Denise Klein at NYCM Insurance, a property and casualty insurance company. It is headquartered in Edmeston, N.Y., with three branch offices throughout the state.

From virtual coaching to free daily lunches to a weekly company market, New York Central Mutual Fire (NYCM) Insurance is finding creative ways to help its employees cope with the global pandemic.

The majority of NYCM Insurance's 890 employees have worked remotely since March 18. With so many people unable to take advantage of onsite wellness benefits, "we've become very creative at going virtual," said Denise Klein, vice president of HR.  Denise Klein, vice president of HR at NYCM.

Virtual coaching at the 121-year-old company is available from one of two life coaches on staff. If an employee appears stressed, Klein said, the coach "can reach out and set up an appointment."

The company is maintaining close contact with employees. Members of its walking, exercise and meditation programs receive daily morale-boosting e-mails. The company turned its headquarters cafeteria into a café where employees may go online and order free lunch each day and a full dinner once a week and pick the food up at a drive-through window. There also is an onsite market—Curb Side to Go—where employees may purchase, at cost, ground beef, eggs, cheese and other groceries at specified times on a first-come, first-served basis.

SHRM Resource Spotlight
Coronavirus and COVID-19

Communication 

Klein sits on NYCM Insurance's Incident Response Team, which has met every morning at 8 since the pandemic began to assess the situation and its impact on the organization and to make quick decisions as needed. Team members are together throughout the day to ensure that accurate and timely decisions are made, she said. The team advises the company on activating text and e-mail emergency alerts and created an 800 number for sick employees to call HR to learn about COVID-19 symptoms.

The company also developed training for supervisors on how to manage remote workers and provided tips for teleworking employees—reminding them of telemedicine benefits, suggesting creating daily schedules to stay focused and offering strategies for managing anxiety.

"We talked [with them] about checking in with [their] supervisor, checking in with [their] co-workers. We all understand everybody's adjusting," Klein said. "We're trying to really stay connected with our employees and with each other."  

What is your organization doing to stay connected? Drop us an e-mail at shareyourstories@shrm.org

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