FirstService Relief Fund: Tips for People Leaders

As a manager or supervisor, you are likely to be faced with a scenario where a team member is undergoing a challenging situation which may create a personal financial hardship for them. There are many ways you can support this team member, and one of them is reminding them of the FirstService Relief Fund.

The FirstService Relief Fund is our commitment to providing support and assistance to those facing hardships, whether it’s due to natural disasters, financial difficulties, or unforeseen emergencies. Eligible employees—defined as those who maintain an average of 30 hours per week or 120 hours per month and have not taken leave exceeding one year—can seek assistance. Grants, ranging from $500 to $3,000, are available to alleviate financial burdens. Applicants are required to submit their requests within 180 days from the occurrence of their Qualified Event, providing evidence of financial hardship as part of the application process.

The most common reasons for applying include death of a family member, impacts from natural disasters or serious illnesses/injuries. When you become aware a team member is facing challenges such as these, it is an opportune time to gently remind them that the FirstService Relief Fund may be able to help them. The application process is anonymous, and the only information shared with the company is their name and application date so eligibility may be verified and the application processed.

Here are some tips for navigating difficult or sensitive conversations with team members.

  1. Create a Safe and Supportive Environment:
    • Begin the conversation by expressing your genuine concern for the employee’s well-being.
    • Assure them that the discussion is confidential and aimed at finding ways to support them during their time of need.
  2. Active Listening:
    • Listen attentively to the employee’s concerns, allowing them to share their situation without interruption.
    • Ask open-ended questions to understand the full scope of their challenges and needs.
  3. Empathize and Validate:
    • Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging the employee’s feelings and validating their experiences.
    • Reassure them that it’s okay to ask for help and that seeking assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  4. Educate about the FirstService Relief Fund:
    • Explain the purpose and benefits of the FirstService Relief Fund, emphasizing that it’s designed to provide support during times of hardship.
    • Highlight the types of assistance available through the fund, such as financial aid, counseling services, and resources for rebuilding.
  5. Offer Assistance in Applying:
    • Guide the employee through the process of accessing the Relief Fund, including how to submit an application and any required documentation.
    • Provide information on who to contact within the organization for additional support or clarification.
  6. Respect Privacy and Confidentiality:
    • Assure the employee that their privacy will be respected throughout the application process.
    • Stress the confidentiality of their situation and reassure them that their personal information will be handled with the utmost care.
  7. Follow-Up and Support:
    • Offer ongoing support and encouragement to the employee, checking in periodically to see how they’re doing.
    • Provide resources and referrals to other support services within the company or community, if needed.
  8. Encourage Self-Care:
    • Remind the employee to prioritize self-care and well-being during challenging times.
    • Offer suggestions for stress management techniques or coping strategies, such as mindfulness exercises or seeking professional support. Your company’s EAP may be a good resource to direct them to for additional support.
  9. Reinforce Company Values:
    • Emphasize the company’s commitment to supporting its employees and fostering a culture of care and compassion.
    • Encourage the employee to reach out for help whenever needed and remind them that they are valued members of the team.
  10. Document the Conversation:
    • Make note of the discussion in a confidential and secure manner, documenting any agreed-upon actions or follow-up steps.

By following these talking points and tips, managers can effectively support employees in accessing the assistance they need from the FirstService Relief Fund while demonstrating empathy, understanding, and respect for their privacy.