Texas Children’s Hospital - Houston, TX
FAST FACTS ABOUT: Texas Children’s Hospital
Types of TDM: Modal Shift
Keywords: Transit subsidies, Vanpool Subsidies, Carpool allowances, Recruitment and retention, Home/Life balance
Employer Demographics: Located within the largest medical center in the
world, TCH is the largest pediatric hospital in the United States.
Results: 20% mode shift, 10% carpool/vanpool, 10% transit
Cost of Program: checking on that figure
Staff: 1 FTE for seven sites
Contact: Patsi Davis, Transportation Specialist, 832-824-2070
Recruitment and Retention
Located just southwest of Houston, Texas in the Texas Medical Center, Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) is the largest pediatric hospital in the United States. A full-care pediatric hospital, the hospital’s medical staff consists of more than 1,580 primary-care physicians, pediatric subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists and dentists. In addition, Texas Children’s boasts a nursing and support staff of more than 6,000. TCH’s mission “to create a community of healthy children” is leveraged by the CEO’s commitment to assist employees balance work and home life. Given the nursing shortage and limited supply of high quality doctors, recruiting and retaining top notch employees became difficult for TCH. Therefore, in an effort to increase TCH’s recruitment and retention, the CEO convened a focus group in 2001. Vice Presidents and Directors of various departments participated in a brainstorming session and discussed ideas on how TCH can continue to function as a “world class” facility and attract and keep top notch employees.
Brainstormed ideas included providing free uniforms to staff, offering $2,500 per year tuition subsidy, and instituting free parking, bus passes and carpool allowances. All of the ideas were implemented at the cost of $5.7 million for the first year. Highlighted among the benefits was the flexible employee transportation benefits program.
Flexibility is Key
Recognizing the changing needs and schedules of hospital employees, TCH’s upper management is committed to providing flexible employee transportation benefits. Among the many benefits Texas Children’s offers are transit subsidies, rideshare matching, vanpool subsidies, parking management programs, pre-tax benefits, bike/walk incentives, a telework program, flexible work schedules, a Guaranteed Ride Home program, and shuttle service. Most of the programs are flexible from month to month and all employees are eligible to participate. Due to the CEO’s emphasis on home and work life, he wanted to make sure the program maintained an “ease of use” with the program. Employees feel like they own the program because they can pick and chose which options are best for them at different times. For example, in the summer months, more employees use alternative transportation modes. These employees are eligible to receive transportation benefits strictly for the summer months.
Management believed the presence of a
subsidy would increase participation in the transportation benefits
Incentives for Options
Previous to the 2001 brainstorming session, the hospital subsidized transit subsidies at less than 15%. After the brainstorming session, both the number of transportation options supported by TCH and the amount of subsidies provided increased. Management believed the presence of a subsidy would increase participation in the transportation benefits program. The table below summarizes TCH’s program options and corresponding subsidies. Subsidy ranges shown are based on employee commute distance and cover 100% of vanpool and METRO transit costs.
While not heavily marketed, when the commute options program is advertised the messages are simple, “Free Rides” or “Manage your home and work life”. Information about the program is given to new hires during orientation along with free one-day passes from METRO. Enrollment forms and information about the programs can be found on TCH’s intranet. Additional commuter option information is published in the company newsletters and are placed on bulletin boards in general employee areas. TCH also works with Commute Solutions, the regional commute alternatives program, to help get the word out to employees. Commute Solutions offers brochures, training and a telework program to TCH employees.
TCH has been challenged by the “it’s too good to be true” employee mentality. Often, employees do not believe that these programs are free. They are looking for a catch or think this is a one time only subsidy. Once TCH management is able to clearly explain the transportation benefits program, employees are hooked.
Make the Employees Happy
The program at TCH does not have set quantifiable goals to measure success. Success of this program is based on employee reaction. Management does not “worry” about the program unless there are negative reactions to it, which has not occurred to date. TCH management strives to ensure employees are provided with as many available commuter options and that the program remains flexible and open ended. Surveys about the TCH benefits package are performed regularly. The results of the survey are compiled and given to the Vice President of the institution on a monthly basis.
Currently, survey results show 20% of TCH employees participate in the commute options program. Of that population, approximately 10% carpool or vanpool, and 10% ride transit.
In addition to changing employee travel behavior, the employee benefits program has contributed to improving TCH’s recruitment and retention numbers. Before program implementation, the population at TCH was 3,700. After implementation, with the addition of 1.2 million square feet to the facility, an additional 1,800 persons were hired. TCH’s management praises the transportation benefits program and the other employee benefits (free uniforms, tuition) as an important recruitment and retention tool.