In this Benefits Decoded, we chat with Joaquin Gamboa, Chief People Officer at Zocdoc.
Joaquin talks to us about Unsick Day—an initiative launched by his company that helps American employers empower their people to be proactive about preventative health. He also chats with us about how the idea came to be; how employers can get involved, as well as what measures he takes to look after his own people—including lots of proactive education to ensure they’re aware of the wealth of benefits available to them.
Which benefit do you wish your people knew more about or used more often?
I believe company leaders that offer employer-sponsored insurance, Zocdoc included, have a real opportunity to ensure their team members are informed about their health and dental plans. Employer-sponsored insurance plans, for example, are currently required by law to cover a range of preventive services at no cost to employees, but many people don’t realize that these services are fully covered. Making sure our teams are informed of these benefits, starting at the leadership level, will increase the likelihood of employees utilizing these benefits and staying healthy.
Which benefit or cultural initiative are you most proud to provide?
I’m incredibly proud that we cover 100% of the premium health insurance costs for our employees who enroll through the company. Another valuable company-culture initiative is something we call Zoctalk. It’s our all-hands meeting that takes place almost every Friday. Each week a different team member gives a TED-style deep dive talk on a big win, pilot project, departmental inner working, or current event. During this meeting, employees are often individually recognized for their success on a particular project, and we encourage employees to send in “wins” to showcase each other’s great work.
What is “Unsick Day”?
In our workplace culture today, it’s all too common for work expectations and priorities to get in the way of visiting the doctor for those important check-ups that keep us healthy. Unsick Day is a new type of day off—without penalty and with explicit permission and encouragement—for American workers to go to the doctor when they aren’t sick for that often-neglected annual physical or dental cleaning.
Employers have a real opportunity to proactively empower and encourage their team members to seek preventive care.
How did you get the idea for the “Unsick Day” campaign?
We recently realized that even at Zocdoc, where we focus on healthcare access day-in and day-out, only one in three of our employees was going to the doctor for preventive care. This was quite disconcerting, particularly since we offer generous insurance benefits for our employees and their immediate family members, along with other health-focused benefits and incentives.
When we dug a little deeper on this issue of work-health imbalance, we discovered that the problem extends beyond Zocdoc. A survey we conducted with Kelton Global found that only one in four American workers say they have utilized all of their preventive health benefits. Employers have a real opportunity to proactively empower and encourage their team members to seek preventive care. That’s why we’re asking other companies to join us and our founding partners to lead by example by offering an Unsick Day themselves.
How would you coach a benefits manager to get “Unsick Day” approved and implemented at their company?
We know many companies already offer wellness programs and incentives meant to keep their employees healthy—and while these comprehensive benefits packages are important, employee utilization is what matters most. We were certainly proud of the competitive health benefits we offered, but when we took a closer look, we realized we were falling down on ensuring our team used them.
For any benefits managers interested in exploring the idea of an Unsick Day, we’ve found taking a look at your company’s insurance utilization rates is a good place to start. This will give you a sense for if, and how, your team members are utilizing your benefits. I think most companies will find there’s more they can do to encourage their employees to be proactive about their health. We cannot be passive on this issue.
In terms of implementation, we know that every company is different with their varying policies and types of work forces. The beauty of this benefit is that you can really tailor it to fit your company’s needs. We do, however, strongly encourage employers to consider offering an additional day on top of existing PTO to show employees this isn’t just lip service but an opportunity for them to take real action for their health.
Benefits Decoded profiles innovative leaders in the healthcare space and talks to them about the opportunities and challenges they face when taking care of their people. Do you want to share your story or know a company that we should highlight? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.