In her eight years working for Verizon, Edwenna (Eddie) Ervin has never stopped learning. “I want to be better and Verizon wants me to be better, and together we can do it.”
After starting out in frontline customer service, working directly with Verizon’s enormous consumer base, Eddie immediately began making use of her company’s robust training and career development benefits. “I started working on my Master’s degree as soon as I possibly could, and it did not cost me a dime.” Now a Senior Engineer Project Manager, she continues to pursue educational opportunities while working for Verizon (“I can’t stop training when it’s there for free”), earning certifications that help her be better at her job.
Eddie is just one of the nearly 1 million employees represented through the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, which we launched in collaboration with PayPal, the Financial Health Network, and the Good Jobs Institute to help companies bolster the financial health of their employees. To learn how those actions have impacted their lives and livelihoods, we spoke with workers firsthand in a compelling new video series.
This is Eddie’s story.
Investing in people like Eddie is not just a nice-to-have – it’s part of Verizon’s long-term business strategy, something we learned in conversation with Kevin Cammarata, Verizon’s VP of Benefits. “You can’t build tomorrow’s network with yesterday’s skills,” he emphasized. “We’re very focused on intentionally growing and developing our employees because our customer’s needs are evolving. And so our skills and our ability to meet them needs to match.”
Last year, the company invested more than $175 million in learning and development initiatives for its employees, forging opportunities for individual advancement while improving customer service. Cammarata shared that tuition assistance and training are also just part of Verizon’s exemplary benefits program, which also encompasses paid parental leave, retirement savings, adoption services, and more – all of which “affect our employees in profound ways.”
Importantly, those benefits are not just available to Verizon’s corporate team, but extend to its call center and retail employees, engineers and more. This inclusive approach enables employees like Eddie to grow and thrive, no matter where they are in their career journeys. “The ability to train up makes me feel open and free to learn new things,” she shared. “It makes me less afraid to try something new.”
In addition to its strong benefits, Verizon is also a leader when it comes to wages, last year raising its minimum wage to $20/hour. “Companies need to pay attention to their employees’ financial wellness,” explained Eddie. “If your employee doesn’t have their basic needs – a car to get to work, money for lunch – they cannot show up and be their best for your customer.”
This is where the business case can and must be made. “We need to make investments in our people to help them balance both the needs of our customers and the needs of their families,” Cammarata underscored, echoing Eddie’s point that only when employees are able to meet their own needs can they meet the needs of their customers – in turn, generating revenue for the company. “By creating good jobs and taking care of your employees, you can achieve the business results that you need.”
This doesn’t come without its roadblocks, and for Cammarata, being part of the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative has provided the opportunity to work alongside like-minded companies wrestling with how to deliver greater value to their employees while balancing other business challenges. “There’s not one right path for every company,” he shared, but in establishing a shared philosophy for serving their workforces, “I think we all believe we’ve found ways to be able to benefit our workers and to be able to have successful business outcomes.”
This sense of striving fuels both Cammarata and Eddie, who told us that “Verizon is a place where we strive to be better. Yesterday was good, but tomorrow we’ll do better.” And because, as Cammarata said, “you can’t build tomorrow’s network with yesterday’s skills,” the key to doing better tomorrow is workers. And by investing in workers, ensuring that they have what they need to not just live their lives but to thrive, corporate leaders can also ensure a better, more thriving future for their companies.
Hear from other employees about the impact worker financial wellness programs have had on their lives:
- PayPal: This is Mark’s Story
- Chipotle: This is Eddy’s Story
- Prudential Financial: This is Shanelle’s Story
The Worker Financial Wellness Initiative is a vibrant and growing community of business leaders dedicated to improving the financial health and security of their workers. The Initiative includes peer learning opportunities for C-Suite leaders; creating resources and events for HR and compensation professionals; providing direct assistance to companies on how to develop and deploy a Worker Financial Wellness Assessment, and use it to identify areas for improvement and immediate next steps; and public opportunities to celebrate corporate leadership.
To learn more about the Initiative and how you can join, click here.