When Strategy and Planning Manager Wendy S. joined Cisco full-time, she knew she had access to incredible benefits she now leans on for support and well-being.


We plan for the happy things in life: holidays, children’s sports games, birthdays. What we don’t plan for is a catastrophic family event that turns our world upside down. That only happens to other people, right?

That’s what I thought until it happened to us. But as I write this, I am sitting in a hospital chair next to my mom’s bed.

Ten years ago, when I lost my dad after a sudden illness, I worked for a small, privately-owned company and had to take all my personal and vacation time to be at his side as we prepared for his end of life. At the end of the day, I went home and logged onto my work computer to keep up with all the things that happened during the day. Then, I went to sleep and did it all over again the next day.

Fast forward to today, as we deal with my mom’s medical issues. The benefits I have access to at Cisco have made this journey so much easier than the last time. I knew when I became a full-time employee of Cisco that there were amazing benefits, like Time2Give, 80 hours of paid time off in addition to our regular paid time off, allowing us to give back to our communities, and A Day for Me, which is gifted to us from Cisco on a quarterly basis, allowing employees to take a collective day to refresh and relax without depleting personal time off.

But I hadn’t really considered those I’m using the most right now.

First is Cisco’s Critical Time Off benefit. It is paid time off for dealing with a death, illness, or natural disaster without having to worry about work or depleting regular paid time off so we can be there for the people closest to us. With this support, I can sit by her bed like I am right now and talk to doctors and specialists in real-time.

I also navigated Cisco’s Global Wellbeing SharePoint page and was able to access other caregiving benefits to help ease the burden of finding services to help with my mom. Last year, I received help completing paperwork to secure funding for some utility bills. This time, I am leaning heavily on the concierge and consulting services to help research assisted care facilities and available lawyers and search for documents like Power of Attorney and guidance on filing those documents. When I log into my email in the morning, I find they did the research and provided me with a list of the top five elder law attorneys near me, in recommended order, along with notes from initial calls with each lawyer about fees, and services provided. I have also received lists of home care providers in my area and options for meal assistance.

In addition to these outstanding benefits, there have been other sources of comfort and solace as well. My amazing manager always encourages me to put my family first and responds to my weekly check-in reports with support and compassion. My incredible mentor checks in on me every chance she gets and reminds me that while going through times like this, I need to remember to prioritize myself, too. She reminds me that even though I am “offline” at the hospital, it’s perfectly acceptable to go for a walk for some mental wellbeing or visit with my therapist. She reminds me that work will be there, but when everything else seems to be falling apart, as part of a team, the Cisco family rallies. My team is an incredible support system that has rallied to help with phone calls and fill in the gaps every time I have needed them.

Cisco Inclusive Communities — our name for Employee Resource Groups — are another source of strength. I am part of the Mindfulness and Resiliency Network, and having the time carved out to share positive thoughts, meditations, and get support from colleagues from around the world is comforting in ways that are many times indescribable.

It’s extremely difficult to navigate profound personal challenges with managing work, children, and households. I’ve had to accept that I do, in fact, have limitations to my abilities to perform functionally. I am so grateful for the time and space that Cisco has given me to ease this difficult situation and allow me to handle it with far more grace than I ever could on my own.

See the ways Cisco’s benefits and perks go beyond the usual to help employees thrive.

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“}]]  When Strategy and Planning Manager Wendy S. joined Cisco full-time, she knew she had access to incredible benefits she now leans on for support and well-being.  Read More Cisco Blogs