Total Rewards Action Recording: Healthcare Innovations, with Amazon's Dene Sparrman - 8/06/20




As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause unprecedented impact to business, employers, and employees, human capital leaders continue to face both short- and long-term challenges. Since March, i4cp has held a weekly series of calls specifically for Total Rewards leaders to discuss problems and share ideas regarding health and well-being benefits, compensation considerations, and more. Each week, nearly one hundred executives join these calls to hear from their community and access the latest research from i4cp's Coronavirus Employer Resource Center. 

This week's featured guest is Dene Sparrman, Director, Global Benefits at Amazon.


Dene Sparrman, Director of Global Benefits at Amazon, joined i4cp’s weekly Total Rewards Action Call on August 8th to talk with call facilitator Mark Englizian about programs benefitting Amazon employees. The workforce numbers about a million people globally and 500,000 in the U.S. who receive benefits from the company. 

  1. The Career Choice program dates to 2012 and was designed to benefit and upskill fulfillment and operations employees (non-exempt hourly employees). The program provides support for those workers who want to develop and pursue careers, to work either within or outside Amazon, and focuses on vocational certification in healthcare, technology, transportation, and other high-demand fields.  

    Amazon prepays 95% of the cost of tuition and textbooks up to yearly maximums of $3,000 (for full-time employees) and $1,500 (part-time employees) for up to four years. The company partners with community colleges and vocational schools, but also offers classes online and onsite at some Amazon facilities. The program has expanded over time, and more than 10,000 people have participated since its inception. 

    The global Career Choice program helps Amazon attract talent, engage employees, demonstrate that it cares about workers and their development, and provides opportunities for employees to continually learn and be curious. 

  2. Parental leave and family care benefits have been in place at Amazon for some time and include such options as pre- and post-partum leave, parental leave, a leave-share program, and more. 

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company launched an emergency backup childcare and eldercare program in the U.S. to help families lacking access to care, including in-home care for newborns through teenaged children, and care for elderly family members.  

    Whether in the employee’s home or for older family members in other states, Amazon employees pay a co-pay of $25 per day for childcare centers and $5 per hour for in-home or adult care (minimums and maximums apply). Up to 10 days of backup care is available, and the program—in partnership with—is being piloted until early October to help employees through the current health crisis. Post-October plans are under consideration. 

  3. Pilot program of onsite healthcare centers is currently underway, and Amazon launched its first onsite clinic in 2019. High emergency room utilization rates, along with low use of personal care physicians, were driving up costs for the company and eroding efficiency of employee healthcare services especially in rural locations where access to medical care is compromised. 

    Since last year, three onsite clinics (in or adjacent to Amazon fulfillment centers) have been opened and focus on occupational health and onsite health needs. These are located in Texas and California; a fourth clinic is planned in New Jersey. The clinics are administered by Amazon’s workers compensation vendor and serve employees only. 

  4. Amazon is also opening neighborhood, or near-site clinics, to facilitate better access to healthcare for employees and their families in areas where people live and work. The clinics provide preventive, primary, mental health, and other types of care. Labs and medications also are available at the clinics.  

    As it did with the onsite clinics, Amazon used key healthcare utilization data to identify employee needs and care-access issues, then drive decisions about where to open the neighborhood clinics. The first neighborhood clinic launched in Texas in 2020 and others are planned for the coming year in other states. Decisions on expansions will be made in the future. 

i4cp’s Employer Resource Center continues to make available the latest research and practices to help organizations support their workforces and respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic.