An Incentivizer That Will Actually Give You Money!
By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the The Cold Boot Blog Series
IBM recently patented an employee health initiative that they are packaging to sell to an employer near you!
The theory behind the initiative is pretty simple. The computer system has the ability to track what you purchase, as far as food items are concerned, and it grants values to each one of the items purchased. For instance: Let's say you run to the store on your lunch and pick up an apple, a water, and a bag of chips. The system will give you a point bonus for the apple and the water, but won't give you anything for the bag of chips. The extremely interesting part (and kind of creepy) is that IBM claims that the system will be able to monitor what you actually ingest. Meaning that if you eat the bag of chips and drink the water, but ditch the apple, the system will actually remove points from your total because, though you bought the apple, you didn't eat it. IBM has yet to release any information on how the system would know that you didn't eat the apple, but I am sure when they do we will all squeal in delight.
Now, at the end of the pay period, the system analyzes your points from your healthy eating habits, compares it to your health history (workout regimen, doctors appointments, etc.), and rewards you accordingly. For those who may have failed to accumulate any points, there is no dock in pay, just the usual amount that would have been received.
I am always reticent of a technology that pries further into my personal life than already existing technologies. At the same time, having my paycheck reflect that I have been working on my personal health would be an amazing motivator to keep it up. IBM has had this employee incentive program in place since 2004 and claim that they have saved nearly $200 million in healthcare costs.
For businesses I could definitely see the financial benefit, and that is all well and good, but the motivating factor that a program like this provides would be a massive boost in moral. Imagine your company compensating you for every healthy choice that you made with real money! No doubt that would produce much happier employees. The real catch to all this, is that the system is really in place already, just in a negative form. Most health insurance takes into account unhealthy choices and provides coverage accordingly (smoking, heart problems, etc). So, instead of saying we are going to pay you more for eating healthy one day, the same is being said for paying less for making unhealthy choices. In the end, the numbers may come out looking the same, but the employee feels all special inside with the positive incentives.
Here's to hoping that your employer picks up on this amazing system! See you next week...