This post is a part of our “Standing on the Platform for Good” series. For the original essay please see “Building a Platform for Good: Creating Value While Adding Value.”
No one wants to imagine what it is like to go through a crisis. Yet many of us have lived, either directly or indirectly, through crisis situations. It is during these times we discover our own sense of responsibility and service, and what the people around us are made of—who they are as people. We do our best to surround ourselves with people who are made of good stock—the type of people who step up to the plate and support one another during crisis situations. Many of us hope that we are able to be in an environment in which people have what they need to support their community and add value to others’ lives through their own sense of social responsibility—their own need to give of their time and talents. I feel fortunate to have this in my own life, both personal and professional. When I talked to Ashley, I realized that I wasn’t the only person at Benefitfocus that felt this same way. Although I didn’t live her tragedy, I sat and cried as she told me about it and about her second family who helped her get through—her work family. I didn’t cry because of the sadnessof the situation, although deeply impacted by it. Rather I shed tears of hope, compassion and joy knowing the place in which I work has so many supportive and loving people.
For Ashley, the support and love that she received after a storm sent three trees crashing down on her house validated that her work family was doing something right. The military had relocated her husband and their family to Maine; they hadn’t had much time to make friends, and family was no longer right around the corner to help. Ashley and her family lost everything and would have to rebuild their lives. Due to his job, when the crisis happened, Ashley’s spouse couldn’t leave their hometown and had to stay in a hotel that was not large enough to fit the three of them. So Ashley and their daughter stayed with her mom seven hours away from her spouse. Ashley’s coworkers began to send handwritten notes, funds to support them, toys for her daughter and the little things that we sometimes take for granted. Some of her coworkers even traveled to Maine to help in person. Not only were they living through one of the hardest moments they had experienced as a family, but they were doing it apart. On top of that, during this time Ashley discovered they were expecting their second child. When Ashley checked the mail at her mom’s house, she was shocked to receive a card with 100+ notes and funds to help them get back on their feet.
“During such a dark period, they [my team at Benefitfocus] were a beacon of light—the first ray of light we had had since it all happened. Had it not been for those donations, my family and I would have had to live apart for over two months. You can’t really be surprised when amazing people do amazing things and that is what happened…they are just good people.”
A crisis such as this is never easy. There are many factors and stresses that can make life during that time difficult. I personally understand what it means to have a support network in place during stressful times. Being a part of a community in which value can be added makes such hardships easier to bare. When people ask me about my job, I find myself talking about the people and the community as much as I talk about courseware design and development. I love that I can give blood on a regular basis during work or that adding value to the lives of others is an important part of the place in which I work, build relationships and spend so much of my time. Ashley’s story provides evidence that the people are what make the company. It is more than just software and even more than just culture. It is people lifting people up and being who they are on a regular basis. Ashley’s words provide further demonstration of this point.
“The whole experience made me realize how incredibly fortunate I am to belong to the Benefitfocus family. Not only do I have a career that I love, but I have a support system and a second family no matter what, or where, I am. Knowing that the people I work with care and love me and my family enough to drop everything to help us is not something that a lot of people can say is true for them. I can say it is true for me. I can prove that is true for me. They say that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Our crisis makes me a realize that not only can you love what you do, you can love who you do it with and what you do it for.”
For more stories of associates adding value in their communities, please see the following posts from the "Standing on the Platform for Good" blog series: