Insights / public-relations

CVS Program a Public Relations Disaster


Though the intent of CVS’s program may be noble, the coercive element of penalizing staff for non-participation in health screenings crosses a serious line with most people.  Not only does it come dangerously close (and maybe cross the line) to a HIPAA violation, but it suggests that an employer has the right to penalize you for what they feel is unhealthy behavior.  It is hard not to see the slippery slope in that one.  What is next, penalties for eating potato chips, too much coffee, not going on the elliptical at lunch, or maybe having a Big Gulp soda (sorry Mr. Bloomberg, but that was a giant arbitrary overreach as well).

The sad part is, most of CVS’s negative publicity could have been avoided by casting the program as an incentive instead of a penalty.  Celebrate positive action with a reduction in cost to the employees who take part.  The result over the long haul would be the same, people who don’t get screened pay more, not as a penalty, but because they chose not to take part.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  And each of us thinks we know what is best for ourselves, and therefore, others.  Generally we have the option to ignore helpful advice from others, but when the agent intruding into our personal choices is our employer and threatens financial sanctions, that is a different matter.

A little care in the structuring of CVS’s program could have made this a giant positive for the company.  Instead, employees, and by proxy the general public, see them as arrogant, intrusive and overreaching.  CVS, you need to start listening to your Public Relations firm ““ or get a new one!