CDC's DFCN Example
This section of the Healthier Worksite Initiative (HWI) Discount Fitness Club Network (DFCN) toolkit describes the demonstration project at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The information is organized according to the project phases and includes the following topics:
- Selection Process
- Promotion Planning
- DFCN Option at CDC
- Post-Launch Activities
- Evaluation Process
HWI used the following resources to assess employee need for increased fitness center access:
- A list of CDC employee locations across the United States that included the number of employees at each facility
- Collaboration with the CDC Office of Health and Safety to obtain information from their established employee Health and Safety committee on the status of and desire for fitness center access
- A building audit at each location that noted the absence or presence and extent of on-site fitness facilities
Next, HWI held a planning meeting to determine the DFCN characteristics we desired to fit our program's needs and budget. We identified the following characteristics that formed our selection criteria:
- There could be no charge to CDC or HWI for the DFCN services. Otherwise, we would have been able to offer the service to contractors and other non-federal employees working at CDC, due to federal appropriations laws.
- The DFCN must provide fitness club access for CDC employees and retirees, as well as their families.
- The DFCN must provide access to an established network of at least 1500 individual and chain fitness centers throughout the United States, at a lower price than what employees could obtain directly from the fitness center.
- If the DFCN's current network does not include fitness centers in some areas where employees work or reside, then the DFCN must be willing to negotiate with local fitness clubs to bring them into the network.
- The DFCN must provide flexible memberships that allow employees to use network clubs at no extra charge while on travel.
- The DFCN must permit freezing or transfer of memberships for employees on long-term assignments away from their local fitness club.
- There could be no requirement for the minimum number of employees participating in the service.
- The DFCN must establish and maintain a customized Web site for CDC employees that includes registration information, a fitness club locator, and program information, but excludes other advertising.
- The DFCN must provide a way for employees to request that the DFCN approach specific clubs to join the network.
- The DFCN must perform all administrative duties related to employee registration and membership, including accepting payments/billing, record-keeping, and customer services.
- The DFCN must provide aggregate use data by geographic area for program evaluation purposes, but also protect employee confidentiality by not identifying individuals in these data sets.
- The DFCN must provide ongoing promotional programs and materials to encourage physical activity among employee members.
- The DFCN must meet the following quality standards:
- At least 5 years experience and demonstrated success at managing a fitness center discount network.
- Written references from and contact information for at least four employers or other companies that use the fitness network.
- Network fitness centers abide by International Health, Racquet and Sportclub Association (IHRSA) membership standards.
Next, we contacted our Procurement and Grants Office to assist with finding an appropriate DFCN that complied with federal procurement regulations. The process took several weeks and included posting an announcement on Federal Business Opportunities, reviewing responses, and selecting the DFCN that met our criteria.
Our implementation plan included the following elements:
- Identifying a staff member to serve as liaison with the DFCN for the duration of the agreement. In our case, this was the same person who communicated with the DFCN throughout the planning process.
- Determining which mode(s) of communication was most suitable to our employee population for this project. The following methods were used: e-mail announcements, posters, flyers, verbal announcements, Intranet articles, and links to the DFCN Web site from appropriate Intranet sites.
- Drawing up a list of needed materials.
- Deciding who is responsible for the materials and for implementing each mode of communication. For example, our DFCN provided posters and brochures, which our staff distributed internally. Electronic announcements were generated internally from our director's office instead of providing the DFCN with a list of employees' e-mail addresses.
- Drafting the content of each communication modality and assuring all facts are consistent across modalities. For example, the initial e-mail announcement was brief to promote employees reading it. The Intranet links had a longer, but still brief, description of the program with direct links to our custom DFCN Web site. Our contact information was listed in both the e-mail and Intranet page so that employees could easily submit requests for more information.
- Establishing a timeline for the communication components and assigning them to the appropriate staff person.
- Tracking employee questions and comments.
- Designing a plan for follow-up communication throughout the year.
After the DFCN agreement was finalized, HWI worked with CDC's Office of the Director to draft and schedule an agencywide e-mail announcement. Scheduled to coincide with the director's announcement, HWI staff members distributed the posters and brochures provided by our DFCN, wrote Intranet articles about the project, and publicized CDC's customized DFCN Web site.
Based on employee questions and comments, HWI developed a Frequently Asked Questions document. As a time saver, we easily "cut and pasted" these answers into our replies as appropriate when responding to inquiries. The most common questions we received were:
- Is Club X a member of this program?
- Why isn't Club X a member?
- How could I get Club X to become a member?
- May all staff use the program?
- The network doesn't include any clubs in my town. Why not?
- I just signed a 2-year contract at my current gym. Can I get out of it?
Provision of evaluation data was included in CDC's agreement with the DFCN. We requested monthly aggregate reports by geographic region, stipulating that the reports not disclose identities of individual employees. The monthly reports include the following:
- Number of inquiries received about DFCN services from our employees, retirees, and family members
- Number of fitness club guest passes issued
- Number of employees, retirees and family members that joined a fitness center through the DFCN, by geographic area
- Number of fitness clubs added to their network, by relevant geographic area
Additional data were collected by internal staff:
- Comments and questions from employees informally and via the HWI Intranet Web site mailbox