Workplace Wellness – An Exercise in Frustration

that's not how this worksIf you are a regular reader of this blog or follower on social media, you’ve probably seen me discuss Al Lewis. Al is a wellness expert who often calls out the wellness industry on their fatphobia. Recently he took wellness companies to task saying, in part, “Attention, outcomes-based wellness vendors: can you please please stop harassing employees because of their weight…You are doing incalculable harm.”

I’m against compulsory workplace wellness plans entirely – I believe that the only facet of employees’ lives that employers should be involved in is compensating employees with a thriving wage in return for employees doing their jobs. Under the current US model compensation should include wages and benefits including health insurance. It would be my preference that health insurance not be attached to one’s job, but as long as it is, it should be looked at simply as another form of compensation. One’s employer should no more be allowed to get involved in how someone uses their health insurance than they should be allowed to get involved in how employees use their salaries.

But that, as Al pointed out, is not what’s happening. And reading through the comments as workplace wellness providers try to justify singling out fat employees for useless weight-loss “interventions” (instead of, much more sensibly, giving us ponies) was an exercise in frustration.

If you’re stuck in one of these workplace wellness nightmares, it’s important to remember that – thought it is becoming your problem, it is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you, or your body. There is plenty wrong with workplace wellness culture.

Activism Opportunity: Add your voice to the comments on Al’s post! 

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3 thoughts on “Workplace Wellness – An Exercise in Frustration

  1. Absolutely agree! For what ever reason, what ever lording it over the monkies, good for you bull crap these self righteous dopes start dishing out to emploees they miss by miles. YOU the EMPLOYER do NOT have a right to know, assume, insist or demand alter ANY out side the scope of an employee’s work performance life. If they are not engaged in illegal behavior, or violating agreed to company policies it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS what they get up to, look like, think, do, say, or feel. You pay them to do their job, if they have issues with carrying out their tasks, by all means look into it, but don’t assume you know anything about them with out asking and don’t start thinking your giving them a pay check means you have been assigned the position of brother’s keeper! This person you hired to do a job is there for just that, you have no right to know about, let alone demand alterations in their out of the workplace lives. Not even because you really really want to help them…

  2. I like employee wellness programs that offer help getting well, such as flu shots (opt-IN) for employees and their families, easy-access gyms, on-site clinic, a wide variety of healthy food options both in the cafeteria and vending machines (but not the ONLY options), etc.

    Programs that, say, bring in a van once or twice a year for convenient mammograms, or other wellness checks. Instead of taking off half a day to go elsewhere and get it done, you are encouraged to schedule a time at the van, and you’re only away from your desk for 15 minutes, and not docked for the time, because by doing preventive care, you are helping to ensure the company that you will continue to be a productive employee for a long time.

    If it’s always opt-IN, and all about prevention and making that prevention very convenient, then I’m all for it. Add in some accessibility options for those for whom prevention is either too-late or simply not enough (thank you, genetics!), while maintaining privacy, and I’m all for it.

    But that’s the thing. It needs to be about ACTUAL WELLNESS. And it needs to be private and absolutely NOT EVER mandatory.

    These things are rare.

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