Could Healthier Living Mean Healthier Pockets?

Employees looking to save a buck should think about becoming well acquainted with the treadmill. Companies are increasing incentives to staffers who live a healthier lifestyle.

Many businesses are encouraging employees to quit their cigarette habits and take charge of their health in exchange for financial compensation or lowered health insurance premiums.

Human resource consultant Towers Waters said in a recent Reuters report that 61 percent of U.S. companies are offering wellness-related incentives to motivate employees to live their best lives.

These measures are in an effort to keep employees healthy and productive. Companies tie the rewards to qualitative measures such as body mass index and blood pressure.

The incentives toe the line in terms of what is acceptable, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 — especially as it concerns with client privacy. Still, many of the programs are voluntary and HIPAA laws explicitly protect against employee information being used in a discriminatory manner.

Smoking is the biggest target, with many companies looking to save not only lives from the harmful substance, but also recoup time spent during cigarette breaks. So while a midday drag may be tempting, the thought of receiving what you pay for a box of cigarettes every pay period will add up to big savings — and potentially save a life or two.