whole foods’ team member healthy discount incentive program (a one-act play)

April 13, 2010

in wellness

the action takes place in a whole foods grocery store in philadelphia, pa.

background: a few months ago whole foods implemented their healthy discount incentive program, sparking heated debate about its design. the program rewards employees with steeper store discounts for no tobacco use and lower BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure metrics. the tiered incentive ranges from bronze to platinum, and the incentive is tied to your lowest biometric result.

[the narrator is packing her bag while the cashier and a colleague, the next person in line, chat.]

cashier: [to colleague] how’d you get silver? there’s nothing healthy on your plate.

colleague: [looks at her plate, laughs] i know. my cholesterol’s crazy low.

narrator: [internally] exactly. workplace wellness can inspire everyone to better health or give carrots and sticks for mere luck of the draw.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Drew Hawkins April 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

Couldn’t a wellness program work if it was designed to influence behavior more than just relying on health metrics. I can do hardly anything and still keep my weight and BMI down while others have to kill themselves to get there. A wellness incentives program would be more effective (and fair) if it rewarded healthy habits that lead to healthy lives rather than just health metrics


fran April 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

drew, exactly. i didn’t make this conversation up to reflect my bias that a culture of health exists when everyone’s motivated to make strides toward better health. these employees saw the arbitrariness of the design and good fortune.



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