One of Charlotte’s top employers announced Thursday it will give full-time employees a surprise week of paid time off.
Winston-Salem based Novant Health, which has close to 12,000 employees in the Charlotte area, is giving full-time employees the option of getting an additional week of paid time off, or an equivalent cash award, in a $40-million program for the hospital system.
The employee reward comes as Charlotte area hospital systems struggle with higher rates of COVID-19 infection than ever before in the coronavirus pandemic. And employers of all types have been working to come up with ways to attract and retain workers, from signing bonuses to profit sharing options.
“We recognize that we must care for our team members first so that they are able to care for others, and I am proud we are able to extend this surprise reward to them,” Novant Health CEO Carl Armato said in a statement Thursday.
The surprise award was announced to employees in a weekly town hall Zoom call with Armato.
The reward is available to all full-time employees at the assistant director level and below. And part-time workers will receive an additional 24 hours of paid time off or the cash equivalent.
The hospital system has more than 35,000 employees.
COVID still straining resources
Even as Charlotte officials say the area may be reaching a peak in the current surge of COVID infections, Charlotte hospitals are still straining to handle the increase in COVID patients.
Just last week, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper called for federal help for Charlotte hospitals dealing with record numbers of patients hospitalized with COVID.
North Carolina has set daily records for hospitalizations multiple times throughout January, including a new one set Wednesday with 5,158 people hospitalized with COVID, according to the state.
And the high level of hospitalizations has strained hospital resources and staffing capacity, Cooper said.
In a news conference Thursday, Novant Health Chief People Officer Carmen Canales told reporters that the hospital system wanted to reward employees — many of whom are entering their third year on the front lines of a pandemic.
Canales said Novant executives have heard from many employees that additional time off to take care of themselves or their families would be helpful. To others, the immediate cash reward would be more attractive.
That’s why the hospital system is giving employees the choice between additional paid time off or the cash equivalent, she said.