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Wellness: Carrots….and sticks?

It would seem a lot of employers have wellness programs in place these days. Wellness programs have shown useful to reduce health care premiums, and keep employees happier and healthier on the job. In some cases employers have shown where it has reduced the amount of sick time taken. I’ve also heard rough numbers about employers receiving anywhere from $4 to $6 in savings for every $1 they put towards wellness. When you’re talking about that kind of savings, even the toughest critics raise an eyebrow. There are, of course, various perks to get employees to participate from simple cash payouts to gift cards to drawing for trips and all kinds of fancy stuff – the proverbial carrots if you will.

Now, while I’ve been aware of some employers penalizing employees who say smoke (while providing programs to help them quit), one thing that seems to be popping up a lot more are employers who penalize their employees if they don’t participate in these wellness programs. Just this morning I read about several employers in a neighboring Tennessee city that have¬†implemented¬†these types of programs. Of course, I have to question the provisions put in place to make these types of penalties fair but according to the article a recent Towers Watson survey stated that 38% of the surveyed said they plan to have penalties in place by the end of the year. So this is something obviously on the forefront of more and more employers.

So, I’m curious, for those of you with wellness programs, have you implemented penalties for non-participation? What kind of hurdles/challenges have you run into?

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