Encouraging Wellness

Thursday, May 1, 2008
Write To The Editor Reprints

We recently spoke with Dave Beadle, manager of HR at Qualcomm in San Diego, about how the company encourages employees to take advantage of on-site health coaching services.  

What sort of methods do you use to encourage Qualcomm employees to use your on-site health center -- for example, do you rely on the Web, printed materials, in-person presentations to employees? Which methods have you found to be the most effective?

We utilize a variety of methods.  Our primary source is our weekly e-mail of QLife activities and programs.  This e-mail is broadcast to all San Diego employees.  In addition, we have developed a trifold brochure and a three-page handout to highlight the service offerings in the Health Center.

Health center staff are present at all of our large employee events, such as our Qualcomm Summer on the Lawn Concert Series, the Arts & Crafts Faire, the Livin' the QLife Festival and our newest event co-hosted with our Cafe -- QCooks.

In addition we held two grand-opening events for the health center.  One in August of 2007 featured a facility tour of the newly expanded space.  Over 300 people toured the new health center even though the rest of the building was still undergoing renovation. 

In January of this year, we held the main grand opening to coincide with the completion of the renovation.  This event was held in partnership with the library, cafe and fitness center, which were all showing off their new spaces and service offerings. 

Health center staff participates in our benefits orientation for new hires, which occurs every two weeks.  The Health Center has its own Web site.  We link to that site from the QLife site on our intranet and we have featured the health center in several stories on our main Qualnet home page through QC News announcements and stories.  We even produced a video to introduce employees to the new staff, and highlight the health center services and experience.  That video is available for streaming at any time in the video archives section of our intranet.

Addtionally, we have implemented an incentive that has proved quite successful.  We charge a $10 co-pay for use of the health center.  This is consistent with what employees pay for services under our health plan. 

We ask the employee to complete an online personal health record available on the health center's Web site and to complete the online health risk appraisal in the personal health record. 

If they do so, we waive the health center co-pay for a year.  No co-pay for office visits, physical therapy, health coaching, initial pre-packaged prescription -- nothing.  We wanted to limit the incentive to one year so we have the opportunity to change the incentive as need dictates and to keep it fresh in the eyes of the employees.

When it comes to specifically getting the word out to employees about the health center's coaches, do you find any particular methods especially effective?

We know from our overall experience in promoting QLife activities that the most effective means of communication with our population is e-mail.  Surveys we have done indicate over 90 percent of our employees rely on e-mail as their primary source of information. 

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All the other channels are really there to back-up and support the e-mail message.  We also know that we need to use as many different communication channels as possible because our employees are bombarded with information and have many conflicting priorities. 

Using several different methods helps us ensure the message eventually gets through.

Finally, when it comes to encouraging employees to use an on-site health center, what advice would you give to other HR leaders are considering doing this?   

First and foremost, you have to ensure that the experience of using the on-site clinic is going to be different (i.e. better) than what they currently experience with doctors and clinics in the community. 

Work very closely with your vendor to ensure you are minimizing wait times -- for getting an appointment and while in the waiting room.  Maximize time with the clinicians.  The typical doctor in the community will spend 5 to 10 minutes with patients on average.  Our clinicians spend an average of 20 minutes. 

To the extent possible with your resources, integrate the clinic services with the other health and wellness services you may offer and reach out to the community providers for integration as well. 

Look to establish centers of excellence and a preferred referral network for specialist and in-patient care. 

All of this translates into an experience that is more holistic and all-encompassing for the employee than the fragmented, uncaring, uncoordinated healthcare system they are used to experiencing.  If you cannot make that commitment, you are better off spending your resources elsewhere.

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