Punitive Wellness Incentives and a Tough Lesson for CVS
Posted Mar 29 2013 12:00am
For those of us in the corporate wellness world , it goes without saying that wellness only works if people participate. But believe it or not, the idea of incentivizing wellness programs was relatively new just a few years ago. Companies might offer a cash incentive to complete a health assessment , or hand out gift cards for participating in a biometric screening , but few went beyond that.
Let me tell you -- times have changed.
More and more of our clients are asking about outcomes-based incentive programs -- tying incentives not just to participation but to actual results. Other companies tell employees that if they don't participate in certain ways, they'll have to pay up
CVS learned a tough lesson this week . When news broke that their wellness program will require employees to share certain health information or pay a $50 monthly penalty, the reaction in the media was swift. The move was seen as a corporate power-grab; a giveaway to "Big Pharma"; Big Brother run amok. At least so far, CVS is (unfortunately) losing the public-relations battle.
We're working on a white paper that discusses outcomes-based incentives, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let me offer a little off-the-cuff advice to HR professionals and benefits brokers. Rather than focus on penalties, earn employees' trust and participation the old fashioned way:
Get upper-management support and make sure they're vocal about the purpose of the program.
Be crystal clear about how participants' data will be used and who will have access to it.
Ask the population what they want. Survey them! And be sure you're working with a wellness vendor that designs unique, tailor-made wellness programming. (I know of one! )
What do you think about the CVS program? Is the criticism misguided, or do the naysayers have a point? Let me know by leaving a comment below.