Employers Crack Down on Waistlines, Not Deadlines

waistlineYes, you read that right. As part of wellness at work programs, CNN reports employers are prodding their workers to lose extra baggage and get more active.

Wellness programs are apparently evolving. Sure, at one point perhaps programs included fundraising teams for walkathons but now they’re offering biometric screenings to measure cholesterol, glucose levels and blood pressure.

The latest trend, per the piece? Offering rewards for employers who take action and you guessed it — penalties for employees who don’t.

According to LuAnn Heinen, vice president at the National Business Group on Health, employers are focusing on physical activity and weight management as a health priority in 2015. She told the site, “They are shifting to more outcome and goal-based incentives.”

Why should they care about your number on the scale? Considering almost seven in 10 adults are overweight and more than one-third are obese, federal health statistics tell all. And obesity is linked to diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

As employers like JetBlue add one-on-one coaching by registered nurses or benefits specialists, they’re putting their money where it counts — the health of their workers.

It actually makes sense. A happy worker is a productive worker but so is a healthy one. If you’re sick and have to go on leave for several months, that doesn’t exactly help the employer. We’re being cynical by intentionally leaving out the humanity aspect that employers simply want you to be healthy but a manageable waistline and solid cholesterol numbers will do a body and mind some good.

For instance, at JetBlue, employees can earn up to $400 in rewards in their health savings account for participating in a variety of activities like owning home exercise equipment.

When they sign up for coaching, they snag $50 but when they complete it, they can add another $200 to their bank account. Cha-ching! And per the piece, employees in the test program can earn up to $500 if they submit their weekly weight, blood pressure and waist measurements and if their health gets a boost on their last biometric reading.

While employers like JetBlue offer these programs, employees are signing on fast and furiously. For instance, at the airline 74 percent of employees participate in the rewards program and 46 percent are involved with the coaching endeavors.

Other companies penalize employees who don’t participate. For instance, Lafarge U.S. provides a voluntary health screening and coaching program. People who participated got rewarded but guess what happened to people who didn’t? They were offered a limited option of company-sponsored health insurance plans.

Publish date: October 20, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/employers-crack-down-on-waistlines-not-deadlines/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT