December 30, 2016

"How Corporations Became Obsessed with Fitness Tracking."

"Once companies amass troves of data on employees’ health, what will stop them from developing health scores and wielding them to sift through job candidates? Much of the proxy data collected, whether step counts or sleeping patterns, is not protected by law, so it would theoretically be perfectly legal. And it would make sense. As we’ve seen, they routinely reject applicants on the basis of credit scores and personality tests. Health scores represent a natural — and frightening — next step."

Here's the article and here's the Metafilter discussion. Many good comments there. I'll just single out:
The really galling thing is that employers put the burden of these 'wellness' programs entirely on the employee. They want employees to walk 10,000 steps per day, for example, but don't provide breaks for employees to go for a walk during the day. If you're a sedentary office worker, this effectively means making the wellness program an unpaid second shift. It's a hell of a racket.

These 'incentive' programs should be legally required to be completable during normal, paid work hours. If an employer wants its employees to go to the gym, then the employer can damn well pay for their memberships and let them count time spent there as work.

19 comments:

EDH said...

A preview of the routine ""second interview."

Mick said...

Another hackable tracking device. They are building the police state with red light cameras, IPhones, the Internet's social media, and now Google and Amazon "Siris". We the people are enslaving ourselves willingly.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If employers will have to pay for their employees health costs, it's reasonable for them to want to minimize that expense. But this also gets into too much tracking of personal information of the employees.

This is a good reason to separate health insurance from employment.

n.n said...

Also, if the employer doesn't want a mentally or physically impaired employee, they should provide a protective bubble at their cost to keep them safe. What fitness function can an employer reasonably expect?

mockturtle said...

When I worked for Weyerhaeuser Co. R&D our Technology Center had its own well-equipped gym, as did our Corporate Center.

Sebastian said...

@ex: "This is a good reason to separate health insurance from employment." One of many. But if the employer has to pay, the employer should be able to control costs.

How long before someone files a Griggs suit? I mean, if you can't test for general intelligence, why should you be allowed to test for general fitness? And isn't there some ADA provision that can be invoked here?

Simon Kenton said...

The Park Service wanted its employees fit, as some of us might have to carry an injured person on a litter miles out of the back country and all of us, presumably, would work more efficiently if fit They gave us half an hour a day which could not be at the beginning or end of the workday, and was supposed to be spent aerobically. I had to confront one employee about sunbathing. "There's nothing in the policy about it. Who's to say sunbathing isn't aerobic? Just because you're out there running, I mean, maybe sunbathing has just as many aerobic benefits for me as running does for you." It's a generally sad day when a corporation gets big, or mis-hires, and there is no longer a common conscience among the employees. After that, the deluge of definitions and regulations.

Sydney said...

How long before someone files a Griggs suit? I mean, if you can't test for general intelligence, why should you be allowed to test for general fitness? And isn't there some ADA provision that can be invoked here?

What they do is penalize them in health insurance cost. They either get a reduced premium for meeting certain goals, or they get charged more for failing to meet certain goals. In the beginning, most companies gave credit just for collecting the data. Then they moved to credits for meeting benchmarks, now this year I've just started seeing penalties for failing to meet benchmarks. At least, that's been my experience with my patients. I agree it is too intrusive, but I have a few patients who finally got their acts together to control their diabetes when there was a financial incentive for them to do so. Before that, it was like talking to a brick wall.

Jonathan Graehl said...

outcome, not process - what's really needed is a fitness test. perhaps we maintain protections for age by requiring fitness be graded on an age-adjusted basis

my corp. has some ridiculously small incentive (show us your gym receipt - sorry, i don't exercise at a gym)

The Cracker Emcee said...

My employer does provide time for exercise during work hours. Guess what? Only the fit, middle-aged employees make use of it. The young don't see the need and the unfit middle-aged don't...well, some things are self-explanatory.

rhhardin said...

Health affects group rates so it's a business deal.

What employers have to do with health care in the first place is the problem, brought on by a wage freeze in WWII. It's like rent control, you can't get rid of it.

Qwerty Smith said...

Employees are selling a service to their employers, just like farmers sell apples to supermarkets and supermarkets sell apples to consumers.

When I buy an apple, I am paying for the apple and leaving it up to the supermarket to worry about what it took to get the apple to me. When I hire a plumber, it's for the job, and I leave it up to the plumber to put the rest into place.

Likewise, if a company wants to hire fit employees, I don't see why it's the company's job to worry about the time it takes to get fit, any more than the time it takes to get a requisite degree, to get dressed, to drive to work, and so on.

Titus said...

I walk to and from work and the gym everyday-5-7 miles on average a day.

I work out every weekday from 11-1.

Weekend days are yoga, meditation and a "super pump" where I am at the gym for around 3 hours.

I love my body. I like to feel my tits.

tits

Joe said...

Studies have found "preventive medicine" to be ineffective. Did those studies include trackers and/or have there been studies looking at trackers and health expenses?

I Callahan said...

This is a good reason to separate health insurance from employment.

True, but I don't think the above would be enough. You'd still have those employers who expect you to be in tip top shape so you don't take sick time off.

Unknown said...

Re: the Metafilter comment: That's exactly how Marine Corps does it. In my experience, the result is happier, more productive people.

PB said...

"Health" is one of those things that are supposed to be related to costs incurred by the business on the theory that employees fitting a certain mold will incur fewer health care costs and will be more productive. Age is one that is allegedly protected against discrimination, but it's really hard to prove discrimination for age.

Rarely do insurance companies provide data related to these programs, merely imposing a higher cost of insurance for employees out of compliance. Often this higher rate is an even number like $100 per month which always makes me suspicious as rarely to even numbers like this occur in these situations. Thus, it's just an arbitrary penalty which can be used as proof of discrimination.

Boxty said...

Lol the commenter that said 10,000 steps amounts to an unpaid second shift. I do a minimum of 10k steps a day if I walk the dog 3x per day. That's 15 minutes of walking with frequent stops three times a day. I bet that commenter wastes more than 45 minutes a day while on the clock at work.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I don't like the idea that the workday is supposed to get even longer. (Few companies are going to just absorb a loss in productivity like sure, take an hour a day that I pay you to work and go run on the treadmill and then shower and dress.) My husband is an elder statesman in tech and all these kids in the industry have no spouses, no kids, nothing to go home to, and so why not eat three meals in the swanky cafeteria, and why not go out for forced fun drinking after work, and why not exercise at work, and before you know it everyone is expected to more or less live at the office. Some of us crazy older folk want some aspects of life to not pass through the employment switchboard.