Case Study

Sharp HealthCare: Support for Frontline Employees and Their Families

About Sharp HealthCare

As the leading health care provider and largest private employer in San Diego (with 19,000 employees and 2,700 affiliated physicians), Sharp HealthCare is dedicated to improving health outcomes for patients. Sharp’s mission is to provide accessible, convenient, cost-effective, and patient-centered care that not only meets, but exceeds, expectations. Their people-first approach comes through in everything they do, from the care and attention shown to their patients, to creating a competitive, equitable benefit strategy for their employees that supports them at every stage of their career and life. 

As is common in the healthcare industry, the staff is predominantly women, with female employees accounting for 73% of the staff at Sharp, with an average tenure of 10 to 11 years. “Our workforce is very diverse,” says Michael Janniere, Director of Benefits, Sharp HealthCare. “We have individuals from all different lifestyles and it’s important to us to meet the needs of all our employees.”

To do this, they offer a generous paid-leave policy (new employees start with 25 days of paid time off their first year), wellness programs (which include healthy cafeteria options, free yoga classes, and health coaches), and family care benefits through Care for Business.

Why They Care

Sharp operates four acute-care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, three affiliated medical groups, and several office and urgent care locations throughout San Diego County. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Sharp and its employees found themselves on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. Hospitals can’t care for patients if their staff can’t come to work, and staff can’t come to work unless their loved ones have safe and reliable care. With schools and daycares closing around the country, and many households self-isolating, this proved to be a major challenge.

“There was a shortage of child care options for employees,” said Janniere. “Employees were reaching out to us during the pandemic to say, ‘I want to come to work, but I don’t have an option for child care,’ and we knew we needed to figure out a resource (to help them).” 

One option that was a non-starter was an on-site daycare facility. Because Sharp has multiple locations scattered across greater San Diego, they needed a care option that provided flexibility for where employees could access care—not one static location. Plus, a daycare would only provide relief to employees with children. Staff who needed to find care for an elderly loved one or a pet would be left out.

“There’s a real challenge geographically, with both clinics and hospitals throughout the county,” said Lisa Allen, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Management at Sharp HealthCare. “We couldn’t provide one center where folks could bring their children. We really had to think about a creative solution to make it easier to provide resources so employees could find care where they need it.”

How They Care

Sharp partnered with Care for Business to help give employees unlimited access to the Care Membership and Backup Care

“One of the challenges of being a working parent is finding appropriate child care,” said Patricia O’bee, Technical Site Analyst at Sharp HealthCare. “Because I work in healthcare and as site support, I have to be here every single day. During the pandemic, I was never in lockdown, I never experienced that. So having care for my child was crucial.” 

With the Care Membership, employees can find a vetted caregiver for children, adults, pets, housekeeping and tutors—which was a welcome relief for many users as children were forced to attend school remotely for months on end. 

Many of the nurses on staff had children at home, or parents or pets they were caring for. If their regular care fell through, it often meant the employee couldn’t come into work. The Backup Care benefit meant that Sharp staff had an employer-subsidized solution to find vetted, flexible care—including the option to use someone in their own personal network.

The Impact of Care

Care benefits are making a big impact. Backup Care alone saved Sharp doctors, nurses and staff more than 4,500 days of missed work in just six months. In the second year since launch, they’re seeing a healthy 10% enrollment and 34% overall utilization of the program benefits. While the utilization data proves their return on investment, the overwhelming positive feedback from employees is what really matters. “We run an annual engagement survey and the feedback we received is that people really appreciate our benefits,” said Allen. 

Care benefits also serve as a key tool in their goals of retaining top talent—a critical need during the height of the pandemic. “I know for a fact there have been people who felt like we showed up for them at a time that they really needed it. We made good on a promise to care for our caregivers,” said Allen.

Offering care benefits is also having a positive impact on Sharp’s ability to be seen as an employer of choice, and to attract a steady stream of new applicants. “Not only were we able to meet the needs of our employees that are here, but it also helped in our recruiting efforts,” said Janniere. 

Care for Business has made a difference for Sharp employees across San Diego county, supporting their overall mission to support their community with patient-centered healthcare.