It's official. From now on, the only smoking you'll find at any of the 14 dealerships and numerous subsidiaries of the Fred Beans Automotive Group in Doylestown, Boyertown, Devon, Limerick and West Chester will be from troubled vehicles that have been brought in for service.
Beginning January 1, smoking is no longer permitted inside or out at any of the company's properties. Beth Beans Gilbert, vice president of the 1500-employee organization, announced the initiative at the employee holiday luncheons that took place in December. It applies to vendors and customers as well as the company's employees.
"We feel this is the right thing to do for all of us, for several very good reasons," says Gilbert. "Employees who smoke impact the cost of health insurance coverage for all of us, nonsmokers as well as smokers. At the operations level, we see a big loss of productivity not only to smoke breaks but also to time out of work for illnesses that are caused or aggravated by active and passive smoking.
"And even more significant, I believe, is that we appreciate the people we work with every day ? not just the work they do but also the fine people they are to us and to their families. We don't want to lose them prematurely to any of the illnesses that are directly linked to smoking. We've all watched that happen to some of our closest long-time employees, and it's been heart-breaking."
Gilbert notes that the company has had in place several tools to support employees who are trying to quit smoking, and these will continue to be available. They include smoking cessation classes offered free of charge and reduced-price smoking cessation aids. Gilbert also put bowls of lollipops at cashiers' counters to help curb the urge to light up.
A $25 monthly supplement, instituted just a year ago, that those employees who smoke must pay toward their health insurance has also been increased ? to $50 beginning January 1. It can be waived if the employee attends a smoking cessation course and receives a certificate of completion.
Most of the health-focused initiatives that the organization has undertaken began as ideas from the company's Health Living Program. Led by employees, the Healthy Living Team works with the insurance company and management to provide health education, support, screenings, events and rewards to encourage healthier choices at home and the workplace.