Influencing cost savings

Ben Wilke has learned first hand the importance of getting a flu shot. Wilke, president of Rosedale Technical Institute, saw the value of the inoculations and so offered free flu shots to employees at a vocational school he managed in Baltimore until this year.

But because of a visit last year to Pittsburgh in anticipation of taking over the management of Rosedale, and as a result of a shortage of vaccine in Baltimore, Wilke missed getting his own vaccine and came down with the flu.

His experience with the flu, both positive and negative, encouraged him to offer the shots this year to his employees at Rosedale. Employees signed up to get the vaccinations, and Wilke arranged for a physician assistant to visit the school to administer the shots.

About half of his 26 employees took advantage of the benefit, Wilke says.

While he concedes it’s difficult to quantify the savings realized by offering the shots, he says that intuitively, it makes sense to offer them. At Rosedale, it cost $12 each for the inoculations, so the total cost for the shots this year was $156.

Do the math, and it follows that it won’t take many saved sick days or avoided medical costs to recoup the cost of providing the inoculations. Wilke says he is convinced it is a money saver.

“I can’t lose on it,” says Wilke.

The program may have some additional employee relations benefits. Wilke says those who took advantage of of the opportunity appreciated it.

“They went out of their way to thank me for offering them and for making it so convenient,” says Wilke.

Wilke says that, similar to the response of his employees in Pittsburgh, about half of the employees at the Baltimore school took advantage of the flu shots the first year. Currently, he estimates, at least 80 percent there get flu shots. He expects the numbers at Rosedale Tech to follow a similar pattern as employees grow accustomed to the idea.

Even with its apparent benefit, as with any change, it will take some getting used to, he says.

“People don’t like change,” Wilke says. “It takes a little bit of time for it to sink in.” How to reach: Rosedale Technical Institute,