Should Your Wellness Program Include Biometric Screening?

Should Your Wellness Program Include Biometric Screening?

Every journey starts somewhere. But if you don’t know where your starting point is, plotting your course will be much more difficult.

For your corporate wellness program, the perfect starting point may be a biometric screening event. Biometric screening can give you a baseline from which to build a program that improves the health of your employees, boosts their productivity and morale, and lowers healthcare costs.

Biometric screening can also serve as a compass, keeping your employees oriented toward their health goals and your corporate wellness program on track.

Today we’ll break down the pros and cons of biometric screening and help you decide whether biometric screening is right for your corporate wellness program.

What Is Biometric Screening?

Biometric screening is like a checkup–but instead of simply gauging the health level of an individual, biometric screening can help you take stock of your entire workforce. Biometric screening can answer questions such as:

  • What health problems are most prevalent among your employees?
  • What chronic diseases are likely to affect your team?
  • Are your employees making healthy choices?
  • Is your employee wellness program making a difference?

In its “Workplace Health Glossary,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines biometric screening as “tests that can be taken at the worksite and used as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.”

Typical biometric screening tests measure vital stats such as height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and aerobic fitness. Usually, a workplace will hire a screening provider to come in and conduct the tests on-site. Employee participation is voluntary.

It’s important to point out that you–as an employer–will not have access to biometric information for individual employees. Federal privacy rules forbid that for good reason. But you will get the big picture results in the form of an aggregate report on the current state of employee health, trends to watch, and risk factors to address.

The Benefits of Biometric Screening

The CDC says 75% of the nation’s healthcare spending goes toward helping people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Nearly half of all adults have a chronic condition, the CDC reports, and 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans are caused by chronic diseases.

The good news is that most chronic conditions can be prevented or minimized if caught early.

For example, if someone finds out their blood pressure is a bit elevated, and then takes steps to get more exercise and reduce their sodium intake, they might avoid expensive and traumatic treatment for heart disease down the road.

The strongest argument in favor of workplace biometric screening is that it can function as an early-warning system for both you and your employees. Your employees will learn how their current health status can lead to future complications and you can use the aggregate information to shape your corporate wellness program.

Suppose biometric screening results show a significant percentage of employees are creeping toward obesity. With that data in hand, you may choose to refocus your wellness program on proper nutrition, exercise, and the mindset needed to develop healthy eating habits. When the next screening date comes around, you’ll gain data that helps you assess your efforts and modify them if needed.

Here are some other reasons to host a biometric screening event at your workplace:

  • The screening results may induce employees to seek out treatment for their issues immediately, rather than waiting for their next physical.
  • Employees may see the screening as a “perk” that saves them the trip to the doctor’s office.
  • Screening events promote a healthful workplace culture and tell employees your company cares about their well-being.

Challenges with Biometric Screening

Biometric screenings can be good for the health of your employees and your company, but they do take some careful planning and decision-making to pull off.

For starters, the biometric data will only be useful if a significant number of your employees participate. However, employees may be reluctant to take part because they’re worried about the results, they dislike medical procedures (even a simple needle prick), or they would rather spend the time getting work done.

New call-to-actionFortunately, it’s not that difficult to change your employees’ minds. They just need the right incentives to win them over. 

Scheduling a day for screenings can also be difficult, especially for larger companies. If possible, choose a time when workloads are relatively light, and consider offering the screenings over a few days (and different times of day to accommodate different work shifts), to make it easier for people to carve out the time to get the screening done. And be sure to get buy-in from managers; you will need them to reassure employees that it’s ok to step away from their desks for a few minutes.

While biometric screening events require a bit of organization, the challenge is worthwhile. Biometric screening will set your corporate wellness program off on the right foot and will keep your employees on course throughout their wellness journey.

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