As I have mentioned before I have no problem with workplace wellness if it's a voluntary incentive based program such as discounts on gyms, smoking cessation programs, vitamins, and even useless diet programs. I have on occasion taken advantage of some of these programs. The problem arises when the program becomes mandatory or penalty based. I have already mentioned in past posts that stigma never works. I personally know that when I dieted and the weight loss stopped then came back on, it sent me into a depressive spiral where I would eat only junkfood and not move. And I have previously mentioned my biggest obstacle to full wellness has been the amount of time I work. If I just had an extra 2 hours a day I could have time to prepare meals and to exercise more. I've been swimming more this summer and often I have to choose between swimming and making lunch for tomorrow.
The Rand company recently put out a report that workplace wellness is a failure on all parts. Not just reducing weight, smoking and cholesterol but savings. The journal Health Affairs put out a similar study and found that workplace wellness did cut some hospitalizations but did not save money in the long run.
According to a report by researchers at the RAND Corp, programs that try to get employees to become healthier and reduce medical costs have only a modest effect. Those findings run contrary to claims by the mostly small firms that sell workplace wellness to companies ranging from corporate titans to mom-and-pop operations.
Workplace wellness is a 6 billion dollar industry and growing. Like the diet industry it makes a lot of money with poor results. And like the diet industry I see it growing despite evidence it doesn't work. (I'm still waiting for blaming to fat people for being non-compliant.)
It's hard to push back against this. Saying no to dieting doesn't hurt you financially (If anything you save money by not doing these programs that almost always end in failure) but saying no at work might mean a penalty. There is also a huge issue because the poor are often the ones who suffer more health issues and a penalty would affect them even more. I know people who ration their health care because they can't afford it. Asking them to pay extra would result in their health getting worse not better.
Again I am not against incentives. I would like to see those continue. I would love if my job had a yoga class.