Setting Up a COVID-19 Relief Fund 

Apr 23 2020

Several of our clients have expressed interest in establishing a relief fund for employees. Last month our CEO Dan Glaser and CHRO Laurie Ledford announced several programs to support colleagues navigating the impact of COVID-19, including a $5 million Marsh & McLennan fund to provide grants to colleagues experiencing personal financial hardship stemming from this unprecedented crisis. 

I caught up with Christine Salerno, Global Head of Social Impactat Marsh & McLennan to learn more about the program. If you’ve been considering a relief fund, this Q & A may help you think through the issues and the process. 

Q. Christine, is this the first time MMC has set up a fund like this?

A. This is not the first time that we have set up a support fund for our colleagues impacted by a disaster – but it is the first time we are doing it on a global scale.

Q. So how did you go about setting up a global fund?

A. Though I’ve set up funds like this in the past, creating one on a global scale was challenging. As with previous programs, I formed a committee comprised of HR leaders to help develop and refine the parameters of the program. Given the scale and scope, and that we wanted to ensure that our colleagues get funds as quickly as possible, we had to figure out ways to streamline processes – taking into consideration things like taxes, cost of living adjustments and payment methods. 

Q. How can you be sure the funds provide support across our global footprint?

A. It's a delicate balance and we think we we've got the right equation. The Support Fund Committee and I have been working with regional business and HR leaders, especially in those locations where we would expect to see more grant applicants and haven’t yet. To ensure we are getting the message to all of our colleagues, we have provided local leadership with language about the grant program to incorporate into all of the town halls that are happening around the world, whether they're local, regional or country specific.

Q. I know there are some vendors that will set these up for a company, but we didn't use a vendor, right? You did it yourself.

A. We did it ourselves. Mainly because we had done it before and also because the onboarding process for a new vendor can take some time. We wanted this program up and running to support our colleagues within weeks of the launch. We were able to make our first round of payments two weeks after the announcement. 

Q. What do you want people to know about the MMC fund?

A. This came about because our CEO, Dan Glaser, was so concerned about how COVID-19 was going to impact our colleagues, their spouses, their partners, their roommates – any of whom may get sick or lose their jobs or struggle financially. He wanted to make additional financial support available. 

In a video to MMC colleagues, Dan said, “Your well-being and the well-being of your loved ones, comes first. I want to acknowledge how difficult this is for all of us. The coronavirus pandemic is a disaster that has no modern parallels. First and foremost, it is a human tragedy that affects all of our families, our businesses, our communities, our way of life. We were all anxious. We were all worried. It's okay. We are human, and our humanity and our love for one another will prevail.”

Q: What has been the response from colleagues?

A. The response from colleagues who have received funds from this program have been overwhelmingly positive and heartfelt. Here are just a few of the comments:

“I cannot express how appreciative my family and I are, and that I work for one of the top notch employers in the world. This is going to be a huge help, while working through these unique time.”

“Thank you so much. It is so appreciated. This is the most amazing company I have ever worked for.”

“Thank you so much. I can breathe again. It’s a great feeling when your company cares about your well-being.”


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