Since I’m interested in learning what various hospitals are offering in the way of innovative employee perks, I clicked on the link to the video (here’s a working link if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/AOKrx). I was so intrigued that I immediately picked up the phone and called Louise Maxwell, Public Relations Specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, to find out more. Here’s what I learned from Louise:
Seattle Children’s has long been recognized as a leader in Transportation Demand Management (TDM), receiving awards from the Governor’s office, King County and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its excellent commuter benefits and achievements in vehicle trip reduction. The hospital’s programs to reduce drive-alone commuting and vehicle trips to the campus have resulted in a drive-alone rate of only 38 percent among daytime employees, down from 73 percent in 1995 as measured by a state-administered Commute Trip Reduction survey. This accomplishment is significant both for a hospital and for an employer located in a neighborhood with limited public transit service.
Children’s recently launched Children’s Commute Tools - an online component of the transportation program:
Children’s Commute Tools
Children’s Commute Tools includes commuter resources such as shuttle schedules, trip planners, rideshare information, and the Commute Calendar Tool. The Commute Calendar Tool allows employees to log all the ways they get to work. It works just like a time card. Employees fill out a calendar and earn a commute bonus for eligible commute modes. They can either fill out the entire pay period or do it one day at a time. The “My Impact” section of the Commute Calendar Tool includes various statistics on how employees’ commutes impact the environment and their finances. Employees can view their own personal statistics or choose to view the entire Seattle Children’s impact. It’s a visible reminder of how much gas has been saved, the number of vehicle miles traveled saved and the CO2 reduced.
Children’s also has a robust shuttle-to-transit system - a network of shuttle routes connects to major transit hubs in the region, allowing employees to transfer between buses, ferries, light rail and commuter rail to one of Children’s shuttles.
Children’s subsidizes employees’ alternative commutes by covering the cost of vanpools, and by paying employees to bike, bus, carpool, motorcycle, telecommute or walk. The average commuter can save nearly $2,000 a year in transportation costs simply by using an alternative commute mode!
Children’s also offers the following commuting benefits to staff:
Bicycle Tune Ups
No appointments necessary. First come, first served. One tune-up per employee per year.
Bike Commuting 101
Bicycle Commuting Classes Offered. Any Children’s employee interested in learning more about bicycle commuting is encouraged to register for a Bicycle Commuting class. The classes are 2 hours long and feature classroom and on-bike learning modules. While the focus is on commuting, the information will benefit all riders whether on a club ride, or riding with family members.
This environmentally friendly transportation option offers employees the opportunity to check out bikes for inner-city transportation, free of charge.
A Company Bike may be your passport to a fun, healthy new transportation alternative: bicycle commuting. Company bikes are free to Children’s employees who agree to bicycle to work at least four days per pay period year round.
FlexPass is an annual bus pass that can be used on Metro, Community Transit, Sound Transit and Pierce transit. The pass covers the maximum fare on any of these buses and the Sounder Train. It is available to all Children's paid employees free of charge.
Guaranteed Ride Home
Cab vouchers are available to alternative commuters (vanpool, carpool, drop-off, bus, bike, or walk) for emergency rides home on alternative commute days.
Taxes and Transportation benefits
Effective, January 1 2008, Children's may provide each employee up to $115 per month of tax free transportation benefits. Anything over $115 is considered taxable fringe benefits, and employees will be taxed on the excess.
Zipcar is an innovative concept in transportation: car sharing. Members reserve vehicles online; Zipcar covers the cost of the car, gas, insurance and maintenance.
Very cool, yes? Granted, this is Seattle, one of the most bike-friendly places around, and, as Louise pointed out, this initiative came from the top down, as the hospital CEO is apparently an avid cyclist. But for our purposes, the big takeaway here is not the particulars of the program, it’s simply the fact that the program exists as a model of visionary thinking - functioning as a very valuable employee attraction and retention tool, and benefitting both the employees and the hospital! Recruiters tell me that their hospital clients who are searching for talent are currently forced to scale back on the signing perks of the past, due to pressing economic constraints. Company cars, expense accounts, even relocation expenses? Forget about it. So, now’s the time to follow Seattle Children’s lead and get creative! What types of region/circumstance-specific initiatives might you launch in order to attract and retain the very best Healthcare IT professionals available? On the flipside, what would tempt you to jump ship and find a new opportunity?
If you’re interested in learning more about this program, here’s a link to Seattle Children’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan - a long range plan for Children’s transportation programs. Additionally, feel free to email Louise Maxwell, or contact Paulo Nunes-Ueno, Seattle Children’s Director of Transportation.