Aug 08

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.