White collar workplaces have been extraordinarily generous, allowing employees throughout their organization and their families to come to the office for hot meals and showers, and giving out extra paid time off, cash gifts, and temporary housing. American Express workers in the Tri-State area who were severely impacted received 10 additional paid days off, and up to $500 to pay for clothing, food, shelter and a rental car, a spokeswoman said. AmEx also provided up to $2,500 for temporary living arrangements for storm victims who were displaced, and up to $5,000 if they lost their homes. The Lakewood, N.J., facility of pharmaceutical company DPT Labs gave all its employees an unspecified amount of paid time off to deal with their issues at home, although it "was a significant cost to the company," president and general manager Eugene Ciolfi said via email. Workers At All Levels Helped One employee at Interbrand, the Manhattan-based global branding company, lost his home in Ocean Township, Long Island. The company allowed him to take all the paid time off that he needs. "This is someone who works in the mailroom, not an executive," says spokesman Russel Clark. "It doesn't matter who you are and what you do."
Some companies even offered to share their office space, and employees of the New York-based website, Buzzfeed, shacked up with publishing company Hearst for a period. With schools closed across New York and New Jersey, many companies also opened up their offices to gaggles of employee offspring. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey, the largest health insurance provider in the state, let children come in and amuse themselves in corners and conference rooms. At CentraState, human resources staff volunteered to play babysitter. "My 3-year-old was with an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old," says Luterick. "As a parent, it was kind of cool." Employee Giving In addition to company assistance funds, numerous employers gave their staff a way to donate money to their colleagues in need. In times of crisis, Walmart invites its 2.1 million associates around the world to pitch in to its employee-giving program. Any JetBlue "crew member," as the company refers to all of its employees, can donate to its crisis fund, and the company will match all gifts, dollar for dollar. CentraState allowed employees to donate their paid vacation days into a relief fund as cash. Some stores didn't necessarily follow through on their good-will policies, though. Walmart representative Dianna Gee said it closed down 300 East Coast stores last Monday so that its associates could get safely home before Hurricane Sandy struck. But Kristine Bennett, a customer service representative at a Walmart in Capital Plaza, Md., claims that her store stayed open until midnight on Monday, through the height of the storm, as the rest of the mall went dead. A Career Lesson That Hurricane Sandy Taught Me Best Cities For Young Workers 12 Things I've Learned From Being Unemployed