When a Company Feels Like Family

We believe HR has the power to improve people’s lives. It’s why we take an employee-centric approach to building our platform and why we find the below story so powerful.


Chris Bohannon, a Senior Product Advisor at Namely, recently shared how our own HR team made a tremendous difference in his family’s life during a difficult time. When we read Chris’s story, we thought: This is what HR for Humans is all about.


In the future, we hope to bring you more stories that show the impact of HR on real people. If you have a story to share, please let us know.


Without further ado, here’s Chris:

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I have been in the HR technology industry for seven years. The technology industry in general is an amazing career path, because each day you are presented with puzzles and the opportunity to create strategy. I also have the added bonus of speaking with HR professionals and helping resolve their business challenges. I can honestly say I love my career and look forward to my everyday tasks because I feel lucky to do them. There is an element of the tech industry that has always made me roll my eyes. It’s the obsession of companies using the word “family” when describing their workforce. When I hear this it makes me cringe. I have always had a distinction between work and personal life and the blending of the worlds felt violating. I already have a family, and they are wonderful.


On November 3rd, 2013 my wife Jessica and I found out we were having a boy. Crying from joy immediately when getting the news I started envisioning our life. Playing catch after dinner, answering his questions around life’s curiosities, and having the opportunity to raise him to be a respectful adult. I think many parents will tell you they fantasize about the memories that haven’t even happened yet, and we were not different.


Grayson was born April 18th the following year, and we both were bawling the minute we saw him. We took him home going 15 under the speed limit ready to start our lives together. As time went on he was hitting milestone after milestone. Feverishly we recorded each second on our phones to fondly show our friends and family. Then one day those milestones were slowing down, and we were starting to get very concerned around his development. He would be transfixed on a page of a book for an hour or more and what looked like good behavior to everyone else made us scared. We knew it was time to get him evaluated. “We’re probably being paranoid,” I would constantly tell my wife to reassure her but I myself was holding my own doubts. It was looking very clear through the evaluations that our son Grayson was on the autism spectrum disorder.


For those that don’t know what it’s like to receive a special need diagnosis for your child, it’s like getting hit with a grief brick. Those daydreams you once had get cloudy, and you no longer plan for the future and begin to question it. The trained support we had around us was amazing. They told us about all the therapies Grayson could participate in, which could lead to him having a very full life. Being in the tech industry I loved hearing: We have a game plan! We have a strategy! This gave us the clarity we were looking for, and we were going to do everything we needed to do to help our son.


Then we got our first bill.


You learn something new everyday with a diagnosis like this. What did we learn today? The common therapies like speech, behavior, and occupational are not commonly covered in most medical plans. This was going to get expensive and now our quality of life was being threatened as well. As my wife cried at our kitchen table I paced in fear on what we could possibly do? Should we sell the house? Take out a 401k loan? The fear was absolutely crippling. We couldn’t just worry about Grayson getting his treatment, we had to worry about affording it.


Feeling trapped, I had to consider telling Namely, my current employer. I absolutely dreaded this. In my mind, they probably couldn’t do anything, and I’d air out my dirty laundry to people I don’t want to air it out to. Not being able to console my wife I had to make the decision and decided to reach out to Ashley from Namely’s HR team.


I wrote an email to Ashley and deleted it three times before I sent it. When I sent it off I waited for maybe four seconds before I got a reply. She had also given me her cell phone number to talk through anything. Days later she let me know that Namely was going to include in its medical insurance plan the coverage I needed for my son’s treatment and would let me know once this was done. Her responsiveness and professionalism removed any and all regret I had in originally reaching out. My wife was able to catch her breath, and we sat eagerly to hear the news of what would happen.


That following week I received an email from Annie on our HR team confirming that the treatment coverage had been added to the plan, effective from the beginning of the calendar year. Have you figured out yet I am a crier? My wife and I hugged each other bawling. We were able to just focus on Grayson and his therapy and no longer had the concern of medical bills piling up. I wrote a letter to the team thanking them profusely to make sure that they knew what they did. My first email back was from Greg on the benefits team with this first sentence:


“We're a family, and we've got your back.”          


I totally agree, Greg.


I can tell you a lot of professional reasons why I love working at Namely. But this will forever be the main reason. They showed real interest in my family’s wellbeing and as an organization made sure that we were taken care of. I wake up everyday feeling confident we can give my son what he needs, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Namely.
 

If you have had a recent special needs diagnosis for a loved one feel free to reach out to me.

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Thank you to Chris for candidly sharing your story. Stay tuned for more first person accounts of the intersection between work and life.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.