Thursday, 20 September 2007

On workplace health incentives, punishments

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I wrote the other day about employers offering financial incentives to staff members for losing weight. And while washing dishes Tuesday night after eating an experimental homemade pizza with fat-free cheese -- it was pretty good -- I stumbled upon NBC Nightly News and a commentary about this very weight-loss reward system. It went beyond the discussion of monetary prizes for shedding pounds, though. It addressed the fact that some employers are punishing employees for unhealthy lifestyle choices.

It was like listening to a parenting expert discuss rewarding and punishing kids for poor behavior. I'm always stuck on the topic -- do I go overboard with praise and ignore defiant outbursts so my kids realize only positive behavior gets attention? Or do I punish my kiddos for poor choices so they learn not to repeat them? Like my confusion on this topic, I'm not so sure about the workplace health scenario.

So some employers are raising insurance premiums for the overweight, for those who won't consent to health assessments, and for those who choose to smoke. It's all in an attempt to lower health care costs, minimize absenteeism, and promote wellness. The whole punishment approach seems harsh. It makes sense too. See how I'm wavering?

What do you think?

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