is there a difference in well-being if you’re white collar or blue collar? yes. there’s a difference in access to employer-provided resources, a difference in lifestyle habits, and a substantial difference in health, with blue-collar workers found at the bottom of the heap in gallup’s scoring of well-being by occupation.

virgin.com asked me to write about this difference and how employers can level the playing field. read on…

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in april the EEOC issued a proposed rule to provide employers with much-needed guidance on the use of incentives as part of their wellness strategy. the proposed rule seeks to clean up the confusion resulting from the EEOC’s filing of several lawsuits last year.

there are several sources for getting up to speed on the rule, including the rule itself and related documents issued by the EEOC. you can find these and more in my may newsletter. the rule is not final and is currently taking comments. but even though the rule’s not final, your employees are privy to the debate. the wall st journal, the los angeles times, and media outfits both big and small have covered it.

how they’re covering it might not relate to your particular approach, or it might raise challenges to your approach—challenges you’re currently reviewing to determine how to address. either way, you should be talking about the ruling with your employees and focusing on these three things:

1. what the ruling says. your employees should understand what the ruling says and why there was a need for it. they should know that there have been consistent questions about certain aspects of wellness program design and that the intention is to clarify what an employer wellness program is, how incentives can be used in conjunction with health plans, medical tests, and assessments, and what size these incentives can be.

2. what the ruling means to you and them. chances are, this ruling doesn’t impact what you’re doing. and that’s what you can tell your employees. what you can also tell your employees is what this ruling seeks to insure, such as assure employees they can’t be denied coverage under the company group health plans or group health plan benefits. nor can they be coerced, threatened, or in any other way discriminated against for not participating in the company wellness program.

3. what we’re doing about it—if anything. if you need to make a change because you require your employees to complete an assessment or biometrics testing to be eligible for a certain health plan, for example, you can advise them what will be changing about your design, when it will be changing, and what they’ll need to do or stop doing.

you might wonder why you should say anything if you, like most employers, don’t have to do any regrouping or retrofitting because of this ruling. it’s simple. “the biggest liar in this world is They Say,” the poet douglas malloch wrote. as we all know, what They Say is not typically accurate. communicating about the ruling allows you to straighten out any confusion about what you’re not doing. more important, it offers you the perfect opportunity to reemphasize what you are.

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cohealth checkup kicks off series on financial well-being

May 6, 2015

early in april i found myself in las vegas to speak at the human resource executive health & benefits leadership conference. also speaking was carol harnett, my cohealth checkup co-host. we noted how prevalent the topic of financial well-being was over the course of the conference. this tracked with a growing focus on employee financial well-being among companies […]

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gender parity, freedom and responsibility, wonder at life rule at virgin disruptors event

April 23, 2015

three hours of discussion about workplace well-being at today’s virgin disruptors event and here’s what i didn’t hear: health risk assessment, biometrics, incentives, penalties, health care, health risk reduction, ROI. the lineup told you this panel on workplace well-being would not be your typical one. arranged by richard branson and the virgin group, the main panel […]

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6 tips for leveraging a wellness council

April 16, 2015

many companies form wellness councils to incorporate a broad range of opinion and experience into their strategy and to keep all players informed so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. in my experience, these councils are invaluable, provided they follow certain guidelines. 1. fill the seats with the right bodies. it’s a given […]

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NBGH/fidelity survey finds employers accelerating incentives, decelerating penalties

March 27, 2015

a survey from the national business group on health and fidelity asked employers to shed some light on their approach to incentives. based on phone surveys and responses from 121 companies, NBGH and fidelity learned: incentive amounts have risen at all companies. the average incentive for companies with between 5,000 and 20,000 employees is now […]

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health, the healthy bottom line, and rose-colored glasses

January 23, 2015

this post reviews the connection between increased wages and better business and employee health. for more on the topic, listen to february’s cohealth checkup, for which we’re joined by economist jan zilinsky and restauranteur bobby fry. this show will be available here beginning february 4th at noon EST.   in 2014, the movement to increase wages for […]

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top 3 cohealth checkup shows of 2014

January 15, 2015

  last year was an abbreviated year for cohealth checkup, a monthly internet radio show on workplace wellness trends i cohost with carol harnett. still, there was a wealth of content, with our top three shows clocking in 2,000 to 7,000 listens. 3. health at every size: is there room in today’s wellness approach? our […]

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jumping back in

January 9, 2015

wow, i’m rusty. i actually started writing the headline for this post in title case! some of you are aware that my mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in august 2013. my sister-in-law was diagnosed at the same time with stage II breast cancer. in september 2013 i decided to curtail any discretionary […]

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taking a leave of absence from blogging

September 11, 2013

i’ve been AWOL for a spell and i need to make this leave more official. without being too cagey, let me share that a member of my family is experiencing serious health problems right now and my focus is on that person and my family. i’m lucky. i’m one of the few who has great […]

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