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Should Companies Institute Financial Incentives to Encourage Employee Fitness?


IBM has instituted an innovative wellness program that offers financial incentives to employees who eat healthy diets and exercise. Should more companies follow suit?

The patented program asks employees to buy their food through a micro-payment network. The system tracks these purchases and connects to FDA and health insurance company servers to monitor policy changes and receive information on individual food products. It also connects to IBM’s payroll server to automatically issue rewards to employees who make smart, healthy choices.

In exchange for volunteering information on what they eat and how often they exercise, employees get a detailed set of personalized health metrics. The idea is that by understanding their own calorie consumption, participants can adjust their diets as needed over time.

IBM hopes to license the system to health insurance providers. If they’re successful in doing so, this gamification tool could help companies negotiate lower premiums for healthy workers. Check out a video of Michael Paolini, a senior technical staff member at IBM, describing the invention below.

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