The time your employees take off for doctor appointments could be costing you money. "If there's one person missing from a production line, even if it's just for a couple of hours, there's productivity loss from everyone on the line's says Colman Keane, vice-president of human resources for Chattem Inc., a consumer-products and specialty-chemicals manufacturer in Chattanooga. For that reason, Chattem has a doctor come to the plant once a week to examine any of its 400 employees who are feeling under the weather, usually treating from 15 to 20 per visit.

Aside from reducing productivity losses due to doctor appointments, Keane believes the visits also prevent mildly ill employees from getting sicker and missing work. The hourly workers save money, too, since they spend less time away from the job and are not charged for the in-house examinations.

The total cost of the program is about $20,000 per year, including the physician's fees and equipment for the (state-mandated) sickroom.