September 25, 2017

Google’s Employee Perks – Could It Work For Healthcare?

Google Fridge

On a recent visit to California,  I was treated to an informal tour at Google. By the end of the tour, I was ready to sign on.  It wasn’t so much the work, but I wanted to enjoy all the employee perks.  I would start off dining at the cafe featuring local, organic produce in those trendy California-style dishes. Then, with a little time left on my lunch hour, I would toss my dirty clothes in one of the many washing machines, and hop on a colorful Google bike for a spin around campus.

My brother, an avid cyclist and Google employee, happily participates in the program where Google contributes to a charity of his choice for each day he self-powers himself to work.  I couldn’t believe all the other things my brother told me Google provides. I started getting Google-Envy.

Google Perks:  (Click here for a complete list)

  • Free Dining – 3 meals a day- with a variety of high quality cafeterias and cafes.
  • Free On -Site Laundromats.
  • Fitness Facilities
  • Medical and Dental Insurance
  • Coffee/Snack Bars so you’re never more than 150 feet from refreshment.
  • Employee Assistance Program with free short term counseling.
  • Haircuts on site for $20.
  • Oil Change and Car Wash Services available on-site for a charge.
  • Free Shuttle Service to and from work.
  • Sleeping Pods for napping.
  • Massage Voucher on your birthday.

It would be nice, but naive, to think that Google does this entirely out of the goodness of its Google -sized heart. Yet that doesn’t mean these amenities designed to maximize employee productivity don’t create some valuable goodwill and have other important benefits.

I’ve been thinking about this Google model and wondering what can be applied to Healthcare to counteract burnout and improve moral and patient care.  Granted, Hi-Tech and Healthcare are birds of a different feather, and can hardly be compared from a financial standpoint, but it’s worth having a look. If something isn’t done to improve the day-to-day satisfaction with medicine, more and more doctors are going to be Googling to find new careers.

If I let my imagination run wild, what would a Googlized Healthcare Organization look like in terms of employee perks?  Here’s one possibility with a wellness focus:

Mental Health/Wellness Services
Dedicated Physician and Staff Wellness Program
Assessments for Burnout, Risk for Substance Abuse, Depression, Suicide
Confidential Referrals for Counseling
Stress Management Seminars
Peer Mentoring/Coaching

Prevention/Education
Speakers, Workshops and Retreats on Wellness Topics
Monthly Newsletter
Lending Library

Additional Offerings
Healthy Dining Options
Exercise facility
Meditation and Mindfulness Classes
Confidential Discussion Groups
Yoga
Massage
Stress Reduction Room

This vision does NOT have the healthcare entity footing the bill for all these things.  Many of these services could be provided as a convenience for those who choose to pay for them.  For Google, it has proven worthwhile to have services such as haircuts made more convenient by having a mobile salon on-site.

If a healthcare organization makes physician and staff wellness a priority, the message received by employees is completely different than the, “We have to maximize profits and the bottom line.  Can you see a few more patients?” refrain.  And this is not to imply that the business model of maximizing profits is disregarded in any sense of the word.  Rather, it is an understanding that pro-actively helping physicians and staff to stay healthy and satisfied in their work will pay off through improved patient care, greater job retention, decreased malpractice and an enhanced work morale.

The need to help healthcare organizations better care for its own was not lost on the founders of Physician Wellness Services.  According to the website, they offer a “soup to nuts” array of services ranging from counseling referrals and interventions for disruptive physicians to concierge services for child-care and travel arrangement.

While concierge services can be nice, I would be thrilled to see some more mental health and wellness resources made available to healthcare providers, and an end to the stigma for using them.  Hair cuts and oil changes can wait.

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