The thing that makes Lab Safety’s wellness offerings revolutionary is itson-site health-care clinic, says Tim Markus, HR manager. Two days a week, theclinic is staffed by a doctor and an assistant who can take care of any medicalneed, short of surgery. "Because it is so convenient, many employees go to theclinic for conditions they wouldn’t normally go to their own doctors for,"Markus says. That means employees are detecting health risks, such as high bloodpressure or heart conditions, sooner and managing them before serious problemsoccur. "Having a clinic at work removes all the excuses for not taking care ofthemselves." Markus estimates that 70 percent of the cases treated in theclinic would have required more extensive treatment if they had been leftundiagnosed.
The clinic’s success is reflected in its rate of use. The average employeetakes advantage of its services three times a year, and many use it more often.Along with basic health-care issues, the clinic offers prenatal care andcheckups for family members—critical issues for the company’s predominantlyfemale population. The customer-satisfaction rating also reflects itspopularity. In the two years since the clinic was established, it’s nevergotten below a 4.9 average score on a five-point scale, Markus says.
When it launched the clinic in 2000, Lab Safety already had a robust wellnessprogram going that includes a variety of health and exercise classes held in thecompany’s 8,000-square-foot fitness center. And every time employees takeadvantage of a wellness offering, they receive points that can be exchanged forfitness merchandise such as water bottles or windbreakers. The clinic was thenext step in helping employees improve their health and controlling Lab Safety’shealth-care costs, he says.
Staffing an on-site clinic may sound expensive, especially for a smallcompany, but Markus calls the service "extremely cost effective." Theaverage off-site doctor’s visit costs Lab Safety $150 in hard expenses. Andthat doesn’t include the costs associated with time off the job, he says.Clinic visits—which are 100 percent covered by the company--cost $25, andthere is rarely more than a 15-minute wait, which means employees are back onthe job in less than an hour. The clinic can also fill prescriptions for the top100 medications used by employees.
When they came up with the idea, Markus estimated that the clinic would payfor itself in two years. Six months later it was paid off, and it now generatesa profit, he says. "We save $400,000 a year in health-care costs thanks to theclinic." And that doesn’t factor in lost productivity, which he estimatesincreases the savings by threefold.
But for Lab Safety, it’s not just about the money. "Anything we do has tobe beneficial to employees and the company. We did this because it fits ourculture," he says. "We care about the health of our people."
Workforce, December 2002, p. 75 -- Subscribe Now!