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As of May 17, 2016, there are new rules under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) that now requires employers that offer wellness programs that collect employee health information to provide a notice to employees informing them:
- What information will be collected.
- How it will be used.
- Who will receive it.
- What will be done to keep it confidential.
How will this EEOC notice effect your program?
Your communications are critical as they create employees PERCEPTION about the program. Do they see the program as a benefit to enhance their life? Or are those assessments and incentives pushing the line of privacy between employers and employees? If you haven’t yet seen the “Sample Notice for Employer -Sponsored Wellness Program” directly from the EEOC, it is LONG and if your employees weren’t worried about “big brother” before this, they may get concerned now. For instance the statement, “You may not be discriminated against in employment because of the medical information you provide as part of participating in the wellness program, nor may you be subjected to retaliation if you choose not to participate.” This is like saying, “don’t think of a white elephant!” How can you help but think about possible discrimination or retaliation?
We know wellness messages should be relevant, concise and motivating.The EEOC example is anything but concise including:
- One full page
- 759 words
- 4230 Characters with no spaces
- 11 Paragraphs
- 48 lines
What can you do?
Re-evaluate your program. Why are you collecting biometric measurements from screenings and health information from assessments? Are you using this information in a way that is valuable to your program such as:
- Identifying high risk individuals and directing them into coaching?
- Developing and implementing programs targeting your populations highest risks?
- Comparing data year over year to determine health improvement?
While the above are best practice and helpful, the hard truth is that most wellness programs that include screenings and assessments don’t do a whole lot with the information/ aggregate results besides award incentives. Screenings are usually the highest per participant cost of anything in your program. Now that this EEOC notification is casting a shadow, why not consider an alternative approach to wellness/ well-being?
- Promote and encourage employees to have a primary care provider and get their annual wellness visit. You can use a physician verification form to collect data, but do you really need anything more than confirmation? Who better to counsel an employee after their lab work than their physician? Plus preventive visits and blood work are already covered services, why pay for it again through a vendor?
- Based on national statistics most aggregate health risks show employees are overweight, have high blood pressure, cholesterol, need to be more physically active, eat better and manage stress. If your programs have a well-being focus and align mind, body, spirit, then you can build momentum to roll small changes to into bigger life changes.
- Tap into the life goals your population desire for themselves, give them resources to link their desires in harmony with their emotional energy and attention or focus. Resources and motivation to make small behavior shifts will lead to lasting changes that will be evident not just in lower health care costs, but increased productivity, morale, and overall performance.
Inspired Perspectives can help you hone your message, re-evaluate your program and integrate resources to drive engagement vs. participation while improving life satisfaction that benefits employees and employers.