Mackey Suggests Motivational Dieting
Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
Foods CEO, John Mackey, has told a Bloomberg interviewer
about his latest ideas on motivating employees to lose weight and “measurably
improve their health.” Using mobile laboratories, the company will
offer to check employees’ blood pressure, cholesterol levels and
body-mass index. This, added to whether they smoke or not, will help
them earn discounts up to 30 percent off store goods, if they can
be seen to be making positive efforts.
Foods spent $150 million last year on health care. Now, the company
wants to “empower” employees to share the responsibility. According
to spokeswoman, Kate Lowery, Whole Foods pays health care premiums
for its 40,000 full-time employees, or more than 75 percent of its
workforce, while part-time employees pay their own premiums.
voluntary program, which starts in January, works as Mr. Mackey hopes,
employees could save money and get in shape while the company cuts
its health care tab.
making an investment and we expect a return,” Mr. Mackey said.
than 100 high-risk employees have already participated in an intensive
retreat-style immersion program working for five-10 days with a doctor
for which the company pays “several thousand dollars.” Mr. Mackey
told Bloomberg, "Several
of those employees have told me the program saved their lives.”
the new companywide program, it will be easy for anyone to get a
baseline 20 percent discount. This, plus contests within stores and
regions, will encourage participation and maintain motivation, Mr.
Mackey believes. After the initial incentive, “The discounts are
on a sliding scale based on results.”
reminds readers of Mr. Mackey’s comments in a Wall
Street Journal column in August that “most
health problems are ‘self-inflicted’ and can be prevented through
proper diet, exercise and similar lifestyle changes.” It is his belief
that “cost savings are achieved by ‘less government control and more
questions: Are measurable discounts a good way to motivate behavioral
changes in employees around diet and fitness? Is this a smart way
for companies to reduce health care costs? Or are the risks of
employee coercion too great?
commentary] Pity Mr. Mackey had to go and spoil a good offer
by implying that anyone not losing weight was deliberately putting
their health and life in jeopardy. That, my friends, is purely
a matter of opinion (and, dare I say it, CHOICE).