Many employers create disaster relief funds in the wake of a presidentially-declared natural disaster. These natural disasters are the types that make national news and impact hundreds in the affected area – hurricanes, floods, and wildfires are all common examples. Unfortunately, less than half of employer funds also include any kind of hardship grants for the personal emergencies of individual employees. This is partly because most funds are created in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. As such, the focus is almost entirely on that disaster, largely in an attempt to get the fund up and running as quickly as possible.
Starting a personal hardship grant fund can be an excellent way to support employees during personal times of difficulty, not only during large-scale catastrophes. However, research indicates that for every one disaster relief grant given out, companies give out three personal hardship grants. This indicates a high need for this type of fund.
Personal hardships can arise at any time, and ranges from unexpected accidents or illnesses that cause financial hardship, to other personal or family issues that may seriously affect an employee’s financial situation. These can include anything from divorce to unexpectedly needing to house and care for an aging parent. Since these difficult events are unfortunately so commonplace, it stands to reason that there is a significant need for aid in those circumstances.
Often these hardships do not qualify for funds from insurance programs or government programs, yet the financial (and emotional) difficulties are very real. Helping employees work through these issues with some financial support from the company’s personal hardship grant fund can provide support where there otherwise would be none. Natural disasters are larger in scale and more newsworthy, and as such, disaster relief grant funds are more popular. Nonetheless, personal hardship fund grants are at least as in-demand and life-changing for their recipients.