Monday, July 22, 2013

On Orwellian wellness rewards

I've griped openly about our new wellness program but I can rejoice that it has not gone the way of Penn State's wellness program, which will begin fining noncompliant faculty members $100 per month starting in January (read it here).

Where do I even begin?

The article discusses the carrot-or-stick problem: encourage wellness by rewarding faculty who participate in the program or penalizing those who don't? I suppose it's possible to frame "not being fined $100 per month" as a reward, especially if you're a character in a George Orwell novel, but I cannot imagine any actual employee of Penn State viewing the proposed fine as anything other than a punishment.

For what? For refusing to participate in a highly invasive series of medical tests at the university's command.

I liked our old wellness program because of its simplicity: get a basic, noninvasive health screening once a year and then keep track of exercise time, which translates into wellness points; at the end of the year, anyone who reports enough points gets a reward ($100). I always work more efficiently with a clear goal in mind, so even that fairly paltry amount was enough to motivate me to keep exercising and track my points.

Our new wellness program offers less obvious rewards: if a high enough percentage of faculty complies with all aspects of the program, then our insurance rate increase will be less that it would have been. Let me see if I can phrase that less incomprehensibly: The rates will rise regardless of what we do, but if enough of us do what the insurance gods want us to do, then our rates might go up less than they would have otherwise.

I don't know about you, but that kind of reward doesn't do much to motivate me. It's like telling someone, "I'm going to beat you up regardless of what you do, but if you run this marathon, your beating will be slightly less painful."

Still, at least no one is threatening to fine us if we don't comply.


1 comment:

radagast said...

I'll just take my beating, thank you. And a slice of pie.