Bringing hope back to the workplace: The story of employee giving at HCA Healthcare

HCA_CorpTag_Logo_4cHospital Corporation of America (HCA) is one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, a company comprised of locally managed facilities that includes about 162 hospitals and 112 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and England and employing approximately 205,500 people. Employees play a critical role in helping HCA deliver high-quality care to its patients around the globe. To help employees and their immediate families who are experiencing financial hardships, the HCA Hope Fund was established in 2005. The HCA Hope Fund is an employee-run, employee-supported public charity. Joe Flynn, Director of Community Engagement & HCA Hope Fund, shared some insights with the Center on the HCA Hope Fund and its role within the company.

How did the fund develop into a formal charitable organization? What was the motivation behind this shift?

The creation of the HCA Hope Fund gave a formal structure to what employees at HCA have always done – help each other in times of need. Employees can receive assistance under several circumstances. These include disasters, extended illness/injury, domestic violence, death of a loved one, and other special situations.

A severe hurricane season in 2004 that devastated many HCA employees spawned the idea for a fund that could stand “at-the-ready” to assist employees in times of great difficulty. We were in the application process for creating the new charity when Hurricane Katrina hit a year later in 2005, devastating our facilities and hundreds of employees’ lives. We went from having no central fund to a fund that gave out millions of dollars in aid. Though we have a dramatic story around disaster relief, most of the grant-making we do is for illness and injury situations we see every day.

Operating the fund as an independent 501(c)3 public charity provides a tax-efficient way for employees to help their colleagues in need. It also offers a consistent platform for responding to the various needs of our employees, which is helpful from an equitable and non-discriminatory standpoint.

Where do contributions to the fund come from and how do you solicit contributions or raise awareness about the fund?

More than 90 percent of our contributions come from employees. We have wonderful support from facility executives who see this as a great way to help their employees. Our corporate employees are very generous and most of their donations go to support our employees in the field, which is a great model of corporate employees reaching out to help their colleagues across the enterprise. Knowing that their money is supporting colleagues provides a great impetus for employee giving.

How does the application review process work? What is the role of facility grant leaders and campaign leaders? How are they selected and what type of training do they receive?

We receive approximately 1,500 requests each year. Each employee is eligible for one grant per year, excluding disasters. We establish grant maximums for each category of assistance such as illness and injury, death, and disaster. Assistance is based on the needs of the employee and his or her family.

We ask facility leadership to appoint grant leaders and campaign leaders at their local facilities. Grant leaders review and process local grant requests, while campaign leaders are responsible for executing the local employee giving campaigns, including the Hope Fund. Human Resources and Marketing functions provide the largest share of these leaders. We like to have HR representation on the grant committees due to the sensitive nature of many of the applications we receive.

Grant leaders and campaign leaders receive training annually and we communicate updates to them at least every other month and sometimes more frequently depending on the season, such as our peak employee giving campaign season.

Once an application is received, the local committee reviews and makes a recommendation based on the guidelines established by The Hope Fund organization. This is sent to the Hope Fund offices for further review and processing.

How is the fund managed over time? How are employees selected to run the HCA Hope Fund?

The employee assistance fund is entirely employee-run. Employees are selected based on fit and experience with job duties. We have a grants manager, employee giving campaign manager, an analyst/database administrator, a director, and president. All five of our employees have multiple roles beyond the employee assistance fund. Other roles include The HCA Foundation and HCA’s employee giving and volunteering programs.

What feedback have you received from employees? How has the fund impacted employee morale or engagement within the company?

The fund has been widely embraced by our employees. In our eight years of existence we have grown consistently year-over-year and now have more than 20,000 employee donors. We believe there is much more opportunity for growth and new ways to assist our employees in need. This year, we will add two questions in our employee engagement survey related to the Hope Fund. This will give us new data on how the Hope Fund is viewed by our employees. Currently, our employee engagement is measured by the increasing participation and giving that we see year over year and anecdotes like these:

  • “Words cannot express the emotions I am feeling after receiving a grant from the Hope Fund! I am so blessed to work with such a caring and giving company and group of employees. I have donated in the past to the Hope Fund but you never expect to need it yourself. This is a wonderful program and I look forward to being able to donate again in the future. To have this type of help when you are at such a low point in your life is truly a blessing.”
  • “I just wanted to write to you and say thank you so much for the financial assistance. My husband and I have really been struggling since my pregnancy complications have left me with the inability to work. This is supposed to be an exciting part of our marriage but financial difficulties have made it difficult to be happy. The financial assistance helped us pay overdue bills and I cannot put into words how grateful I am. The assistance you provided has made me really reflect and know that I made the best decision I could have made when I joined the HCA family.”
  • “I wanted to extend my gratitude to the HCA Hope Fund for the monetary gift that was given to my family recently. It is very much appreciated and will assist us in getting through a difficult time in our life. It has allowed us a little more breathing room while my husband is recovering from his cancer treatments. We are unsure if he will be physically capable to go back to his former job at the end of December, but time will tell. I hope that in the future, when we are back on our feet, I will be in a position to donate to this worthwhile cause.”

We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish at HCA and hope to continue to provide assistance for our employees and their families.