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There is perhaps no time of the year that is more stressful than the holidays. Many people feel the strain of visiting relatives, dishing out more money for gifts and meals, and, in the workplace, dealing with a reduced staff due to vacations. Still, imagine that you're dealing with a prolonged illness and lost wages, and you can see why people might feel compassion for a sick coworker during this time. If you're looking to help out your sick coworker by starting a collection, you'll have a few ways to do it.
What Does HR Say?
In some workplaces, your human resources department will have clear guidelines about the methods you're allowed to use for soliciting money. Start by looking in the employee handbook. If you don't find any guidelines there, talk directly to your HR manager. Ask clear questions about what's allowed and how you're supposed to go about doing it. In some cases, the leadership at your company will have done the work for you, and you won't have to guess at how to start your collection. In other cases, you may be barred from starting an office-wide collection altogether.
Envelope in the Break Room
Perhaps the easiest way to handle this situation is to put a big envelope, box or other container in the break room, allowing each member of the staff to put money into it as they see fit. Naturally, you'll need to alert the staff to the presence of the envelope. Place a flyer near the envelope that clearly states the need, as well as sending an email to the staff that discusses your coworker's needs in a respectful way. In other words, there's no need to go into detail about every symptom or medical condition your coworker has. Also provide a deadline by which people need to contribute.
The General Fund
In some workplaces, solicitations for money for baby showers, weddings and birthdays is already enough to make people feel overwhelmed. That's why CBS Moneywatch HR expert Suzanne Lucas recommends creating a general "party fund" at the start of every year. People get solicited once in a year's time, perhaps with a suggested amount. Then a team of people can decide together how to spend the money. In a similar way, your staff could create an "employee support" fund that can be used for employees in need.
The Face-to-Face Method
The most direct method of collecting money for your coworker is to do the "pass the hat" method. In this method, you go around to each person in your workplace, explain your sick coworker's condition and needs, and ask them directly for a donation. As with the other methods, it can help to have a suggested amount. A word of warning, however: this method can make people feel uncomfortable and ambushed. Be sure it's a method that is OK with the higher ups in your workplace.
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Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.