Friday, July 25, 2008

Reactions: mixed well

I'm not sure how I feel about company wellness plans like this one. Preventive medicine, health education, and reducing costs are good things in my book. However, there are a couple of things that rub me the wrong way:

1. The company requires that all workers receive exams measuring "weight, body fat and flexibility," and then "ranks workers on their fitness, from platinum, gold and silver down to 'non-medal.'" Being healthy isn't a competition (neither is losing weight, I've learned). I also wonder what the standards are for each fitness level - can someone's health be adequately captured in three measurements?
2. They don't "pressure" workers to participate, but platinum members qualify for a company-funded three-day mountain-climbing excursion. "There's a way to engage everyone, even those that [sic] are really resistant," said the "Wellness and Life Enhancement" director.
3. It makes a lot of assumptions about what constitutes the ideal lifestyle. There's an anecdote about one participant who stopped smoking, drinking, ate healthfully, and was able to participate in the company trip.
The program "makes it easier to be able to attain a lifestyle that most people would want anyway," said the company president. That's one definition of "ideal;" there are many others - some that include drinking and smoking.

Ideally, you could find another job if the program really offended you, but situations aren't ever that clear-cut. I'm not saying that it's necessarily a bad thing for companies to offer their employees help and information on achieving better health. I think this particular program needs some modifications.

"Wellness" a Healthy Investment for Company

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