"When we started offering employee physicals back in 1994, we viewed it as an employee benefit like the 401(k) plan and we viewed good health as an important element of a successful retirement," said William Dorcas, manager of benefits planning/programs for CYRO. "But now, after seeing years of bottom-line results, we view healthy employees as a competitive advantage, too. By keeping employees healthy, we not only reduce healthcare costs; we have also seen a direct benefit in terms of productivity and performance measures, including lower absenteeism, better on-the-job achievement and higher employee loyalty."
To make voluntary physicals accessible to more than 600 employees dispersed throughout 20 locations, CYRO relies on occupational health services provider Comprehensive Health Services (CHS). Through its national network of more than 10,000 medical facilities, CHS provides physicals and manages every aspect of CYRO's program, from scheduling exams to medical review, from reporting results to employees to maintaining complete confidentiality. As an incentive for participating in these voluntary exams, CYRO not only pays the full cost of the exam but provides employees who participate with an additional $50 in cash. As a result of these efforts, CYRO reports that approximately 55 percent of eligible employees participated in the exam program in 2004.
A growing number of CYRO employees credit the physicals not just with helping them enjoy better health but with actually saving their lives. One of these employees is Dale Guinta, who believes her CYRO physical contributed to the fact that her breast cancer was caught early enough for treatment to have the greatest chance of success. While Guinta publicizes her experience to encourage co-workers to take advantage of the exam benefit, most employees keep their results confidential.
The company says the employee exams regularly reveal a variety of health risks and concerns, including high blood pressure, possible diabetes, abnormal EKGs, cholesterol problems and other issues. In 2003, for example, physicals detected eight breast cancer concerns, one possible case of prostate cancer, 16 troubling EKGs and four instances of liver concerns. In each of these cases, early detection makes the difference in supporting early treatment and helping employees. Early treatment also helps minimize CYRO's disability costs, productivity losses and health care costs.
Since the exam program started, Dorcas says the company has documented steady improvement in productivity.
"Technically, these exams are an expense," Dorcas said. "But when you consider that for every $1 we pay CHS to manage the program, we save much more in disability, premiums, lost days &endash; it's clearly more of an investment than an expense. In fact, after 10 years, we feel this program continues to more than pay for itself and shows our employees that we really care."