EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE HELP IN ALL ITS MANY FORMS

From mental health and well-being to financial assistance after natural disasters, Medtronic helps employees, every step of the way.

Medtronic employees drive every aspect of our life-saving work. That’s why we’re committed to supporting them in every aspect of their lives. The Medtronic Employee Assistance Program (MEAP) acts as the foundation of that commitment by providing employees around the world free, confidential support to help with nearly any work-related or personal situation.

“It’s a robust program, and we view it as an integral part of how we fulfill the Medtronic Mission for our employees,” said Ken Fairchild, VP of Global Rewards for Medtronic. “Whether it’s a natural disaster or a personal crisis that an employee may be experiencing, there are many resources that Medtronic has available to help when they need it.”

MEAP offers a variety of services at no cost, from mental health counseling to free financial consultations. All are available through a 24-hour phone line, and they’re not just limited to employees — household family members can also use MEAP services.

Last year, more than 42,000 Medtronic employees around the world — more than 50 percent of our eligible workforce — took advantage of the Employee Assistance Program.

WELL-BEING SUPPORT

Headshot of Beryl Wingate, MEAP specialist and licensed psychologist

Beryl Wingate, MEAP specialist and licensed psychologist

MEAP plays a critical role in supporting employees’ mental and emotional well-being as they face a wide-range of issues, including serious crises, personal relationships, work troubles, or grief.

"Often people think about mental health only in respect to mental illness, but mental health is far broader than what people typically think of like anxiety, panic attacks, or depression,” says Beryl Wingate, a licensed psychologist and MEAP specialist. “Our focus is that mental health is really around mental well-being. It’s truly around being psychologically healthy, being resilient, and being able to adapt to change.” 

Wingate is one of several on-staff counselors for the MEAP program who offer consultations in-person or over-the-phone. She says it doesn’t take a lot of stress to impact an employee’s ability to focus at work, but it also doesn’t always take extensive counseling to improve a situation. “Sometimes we just have to ask a few pointed questions to get someone to see things a little differently, and then they feel a little less stressed and a little more hopeful. And that makes all the difference.”

When longer-term counseling is necessary, the MEAP program connects people with mental health providers for counseling sessions free of charge.

Amber Cardinal

Amber Cardinal, MEAP specialist

Amber Cardinal emphasizes the confidentiality of the counseling program. As a MEAP specialist, she helped dozens of the nearly 4,000 employees who took advantage of MEAP counseling services in 2018.

The stress employees are dealing with, she points out, isn’t always related to trauma or negative situations. “I am often the first to know when someone is either about to propose or just found out they’re expecting a baby because they don’t want to tell everyone, but they want to tell someone and they know our counseling remains confidential,” says Cardinal.

HELP AT HOME

The issues that complicate life aren’t always the kind that require counseling. Sometimes employees need help finding solutions to life’s everyday problems, like where to find childcare or help budgeting for a big purchase.

MEAP helps here too.

“Many times, what we see around the world is that employees just don’t have the time or the resources to search things out on their own because they have other priorities,” said Allon Wright, who helps facilitate the MEAP program outside of the U.S. “By calling the 24-hour phone line, they can connect with a subject matter expert who can help them formulate a plan to resolve whatever the issue is.”

Ken Fairchild experienced that help firsthand, turning to the MEAP phone line to find care for his aging grandfather.

“We needed help looking for a retirement home that had more expertise in dealing with individuals like my grandfather who needed the care, but didn’t want it,” recalls Fairchild. “He ended up loving the place that he was in until the day that he died, so it was a great referral.”

DEALING WITH DISASTER

Brandy Sherwood and her husband Brad standing in the ashes of their home after the 2017 'Tubbs Fire' in Sonoma County, California.

Brandy Sherwood and her husband Brad standing in the ashes of their home after the 2017 ‘Tubbs Fire’ in Sonoma County, California.

The kind of help Brandy Sherwood needed required more than a phone call. She was one of the dozens of the Medtronic employees impacted by the 2017 'Tubbs' wildfire that swept through Sonoma County, California. She had just minutes to evacuate her family and pets before the fire consumed her home and everything inside.

“I left so fast that I wasn’t wearing shoes or my wedding ring,” Sherwood recalls. She also remembers the worry she felt after learning that she, like many of the fire victims, was under-insured. “We didn’t know how we were going to be able to rebuild.”

Their answer came from fellow employees across the globe who saw the wildfire’s destruction and donated to the Medtronic Employee Emergency Assistance Fund (MEEAF). The Fund provides grants to employees facing financial hardship in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Brandy Sherwood’s new home

A MEEAF grant helped Brandy Sherwood rebuild her home.

Medtronic donated $3.475M to the fund, and the Medtronic Foundation matches employee donations.

Brandy and dozens of other Medtronic fire victims in California were comforted to learn they qualified for MEEAF grants to help them rebuild their homes. So far, the fund has awarded more than $4.2M in grants to 754 employee recipients in response to a wide range of disasters — from the wildfires in California, to a flood in Malaysia, and a hurricane in Puerto Rico.

Jorge Alvarado Santiago was one of the hundreds of Medtronic employees in Puerto Rico who lost everything when Hurricane Maria devasted the island in 2017.

He and his family were safe inside a concrete building, but he returned to his own home to find the house destroyed, the roof missing, and most of his possessions damaged or gone. “I’d lived through two or three hurricanes in the past, but Maria was something special — Maria was total devastation,” Alvarado Santiago recalls.

Medtronic rushed resources to our Puerto Rico employees in the aftermath of the storm to help with immediate needs like food, water, and temporary shelter. But MEEAF grant funds were the key to helping Alvarado Santiago and his colleagues replace what the storm took away.

“My mind was blown when I saw my house built again,” he said. “It’s a huge emotion. I don’t have words to describe it. Employees of Medtronic are so helpful. They live the Mission. It makes you feel that you’re a big family.”

“The Employee Emergency Assistance Fund is tied very closely to the Medtronic Mission and who we are as a company,” said Fairchild. “We felt it was an important thing to do because it creates the means for the company and the Medtronic Foundation to be able to help employees facing hardship. It also gives employees a way to be able to help each other in times of need. This is just one of many resources we have in place to support our employees.”