Get In My Belly

by Frank Roche on March 21, 2013

in Wellness

I’m bigger than you. I’m higher up the food chain. Get in my belly.

CVS Caremark employees think they’ve heard the Scottish burr of Fat Bastard.

Amy Langfield of NBC News reports that CVS Caremark employees must step on the scale or face a $50 monthly penalty.

“Avoid the $600 annual surcharge,” CVS warns its employees who use the company’s health insurance plan. They’ve been told they are required by May 1 to show up to a doctor for an annual WebMD Wellness Review and submit to tests for blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass and body weight.

“Going forward, you’ll be expected not just to know your numbers – but also to take action to manage them,” the CVS policy states.

Companies have a vested interest in reducing health care costs, which you know — unless you had Twinkies stuffed in your ears — are through the roof. The rub for employees is that they don’t want the company to know intimate details about them.

I talked last week with a very senior person at a big bank. She said she resented that her company was asking for all kinds of health data as part of their wellness approach.

“I understand they’re trying to save money. Why they don’t just come out and say that?” she said. “But what I don’t like is what they need all my health information for. And I suspect someone’s looking at it and making decisions about me.”

And that, my friends, is the fat of the matter: Trust.

If you want employees to participate in your wellness initiatives, they have to trust you. Just ask yourself, “How many people know how much I weigh?” And now you want someone to weigh in, or get blood tests, or cancer screenings and turn them over to a nameless, faceless HR organization? The very same people who gossip about So-and-So’s problems?

Not gonna happen.

Here’s the communication challenge: Encourage employees to start the process of getting healthy. And have them work on getting healthy. Your job is to assure them that no one is sitting in some far-flung HR conference room somewhere looking over individual data and going, “Ha, look at this fat bastard. Why’s he even working here?”

Until you get that trust down cold, nothing will work.

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COMING UP TOMORROW: Reframing the argument about why people should weigh in. And how tossing money at them isn’t necessarily the solution.

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