Is Your Company Considering Fining Employees for Being Overweight?

  • Apr 15, 2013

Which Works Better for Wellness-The Carrot or the Stick?

Which works better for employee wellness programs--the carrot or the stick?Austin, Texas Many companies are now taking the stance of punishing employees with fines for being overweight or for continuing to smoke.

Do you think this is a good idea?

CVS, the drug store chain, is fining employees $600 if they fail to report their weight, body fat and cholesterol levels to the company. Michelin, the tire company is assessing up to $1,000 in additional fees that its employees could pay if they have waistlines more than 40 inches for males and 35 inches for females.

According to an article in Washington Square News, both “these companies originally held voluntary and non-binding action plans that would reward their employees additional credit toward deductibles, but giving power to the people was not a triumphant success.”

Although I am a huge proponent in the carrot approach, I realize it only works with the majority of employees.  Offering incentives, peer pressure, rewards, training, coaching and education are critical components of any wellness program.

However, after everything else has been exhausted, those still not motivated by this approach may need to be punished.

According to a Nobel Prize-winning research, people are more afraid of losing something than gaining a reward.  They studied gamblers and risk–and noticed that “when the potential for loss is there, suddenly people prefer to take a risk.”

That is, when faced with losing money for being obese, then, and only then, will certain people feel compelled to lose weight.  Nobody likes to lose money.

The pain of losing money is worse to most people than the gain from any type of incentive program.

Should punishment be the tool to use for everyone?

Not at all.

Threats of loss cause poor employee morale.

But after everything else has been exhausted- then, and only then, is it time to consider bringing in the Big Guns–Threat of Loss.

Let’s hope that it doesn’t come down to that for your own employee wellness program.

Here’s to a healthier tomorrow–starting today!


  • Category: Wellness Programs
  • Tags: caror or stick for wellness, employee wellness, is it OK to fine employees fro being obese?, wellness programs