Forcing employees to be healthy is penny wise and pound foolish

Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based health care system, announced it will begin fining employees ifImages_3
their blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and glucose levels are too high. Ditto for smoking.

Clarian says rising health care costs are forcing them to enforce such Draconian measures. And, according to various reports, they’re not alone. Other organzations have done the same thing and more are expected to follow suit.

Scaring employees to become healthier may sound like a smart business idea on the surface. But, I believe the constant threat of monetary punishment (Clarian will charge empoyees $5 per infraction per paycheck) will cause a boomerang effect. In fact, I can foresee the ‘solution’ causing more problems than it was designed to solve. I think it will cause heightened employee stress while destroying morale. And, while the Street and shareholders may initially applaud such cost-conscious management practices, I believe they’ll change their minds if worker productivity suffers as a result.

I’m all for fitness and smart living. But, penalizing employees because they’re 35 pounds overweight or can’t maintain a recommended blood pressure level reeks of too much ‘big brother’ in my book.

3 thoughts on “Forcing employees to be healthy is penny wise and pound foolish

  1. On a national scale, one of four Americans is obese, 44.5 million smokers are lighting up daily and most aren’t even thinking about adding physical activity into their daily routine. Now, layer on the overall attitude Americans take toward health, and it’s no wonder that insurance costs may increase as much as three to four times the inflation rate over the next five to seven years.
    Insurers are realizing that the tried-and-true cookie-cutter approach is history. It’s plain as day that money toward health costs is likely going to the wrong places…so, they are trying to fix it before the problems become too hard to handle.
    The days of incremental changes are done.
    My two cents.

  2. A better option would be bonuses for meeting health goals – as part of your performance review. Wonder if anyone out there is doing that?

  3. Even if I was the specimen of perfect health I would be updating my resume this week if I worked there. Thanks, but no thanks. Working in the medical profession has to be stressful enough without the added burden of “gee, I hope I make my weigh in”….