Publisher & Editor, NJTechWeekly.com
When Stephen Waldis, CEO of Synchronoss — a Bridgewater, NJ, company that provides activation and content management solutions for connected devices — saw that his essential employees not only came to work but performed flawlessly while Superstorm Sandy was lashing at their homes, he was moved.
“There isn’t an employee here in New Jersey and at our operations center in Bethlehem [Pa.] who wasn’t impacted by the storm,” he said.
Synchronoss is a 24/7 operation. Customers are activating their phones all over the U.S. and the world regardless of what the weather is like on the East Coast, and “we had our own emergency plan so we could keep our services up and running for our customers,” during the storm, Waldis said. Being able to perform well under such adverse circumstances provided employees a big morale boost, he continued.
Yet after the storm, employees and management realized there was still much to be done. From a community perspective, “we could see how many other folks were suffering.” Everyone had a story about someone who was severely affected. Employees wanted to do something and initiated a discussion about their desire to help. Synchronoss as a corporation wanted to support them, Waldis said.
“The idea of helping the relief effort resonated with me because I’ve been a Jersey guy for 40-plus years. We decided, and my board agreed, that we would get behind this financially through both donating money to the cause and giving employees the opportunity to take time off, with pay, to work in the community to make it better. When you look at how bad things are, we thought it was the right thing to do.”
Synchronoss has devised a multipronged approach called Synchronoss Cares, and the company has committed to donating up to $100,000 to kick off the program. It wanted its employees to be able to donate and raise money, give back as individuals and contribute work hours to the cause.
The company has designated the Everett Family Fund a local fund it will support. Many Mendham-area employees know of this family and the tragedy that the storm brought it. Employees may also contribute at the state level to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund, and at the national level to the American Red Cross.
For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, Synchronoss employees can donate time and talent to Habitat for Humanity. The company will donate $25 per hour (up to $50,000) to one of the three designated charities for each work hour invested in projects related to rebuilding homes. Synchronoss employees have already worked at a Hoboken cleanup effort.
Synchronoss Cares has also spurred a friendly competition among staff members. “We thought it would be great for employees to pick a cause to support. The company and board of directors will contribute to each of those causes equally. But the employees will be able to raise money from the outside for these charities,” Waldis said.
The employee team that raises the most money by the end of January will be rewarded with paid time off. “We are all very excited,” Waldis said, and the company expects to deliver progress reports on its charity effort periodically.
“If there is one message I want to communicate, it is that we have a wonderful sense of community in our organization. … This is the busiest time of the year for our organization. A lot of people buy tablets and phones for the holidays. Yet our employees are giving up their weekends. I can’t be grateful enough for what the employees are doing."
Waldis also said the N.J. tech community may contribute to the Synchronoss Charitable Foundation. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esther Surden is Publisher and Editor of NJTechWeekly, and a contributor to Philly Tech News. This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly.