The process of interviewing people for a job is more stressful for the employer than employees sometimes realize. That’s because finding someone with the necessary skills is already challenging enough let alone when there’s other factors that prevent them from being the right choice. Part of that challenge now is in seeing someone who’s perfect for the job, yet the prospective candidate has the obvious struggles of obesity. As discriminatory as it may sound to even think about not hiring them, statistics are out there that those who suffer from obesity are constant victims of employment discrimination.
It might leave you in a quandary when the risk is high of you paying higher premiums on your insurance policy hiring an obese employee. As obesity rates keep shooting higher in America, what can you do to find a compromise?
Should You Still Hire Based on Skills?
With risks of being sued for employment discrimination, you may want to consider paying higher insurance premiums just for the sake of gaining a superior employee. A more conscientious employer would do this with the thought the skills of the employee may help bring in profits that exceed what’s being paid out in insurance costs. And with variations in weight, you may have someone who’s just merely overweight and not necessarily obese. These people may be less of a risk and can help you tap into a vast talent pool.
Some companies set up specific policies regarding not hiring obese employees based on the particular industry involved. Medical clinics, for instance, sometimes have policies where they don’t hire obese personnel just so they can have employees who fit the proper physical image of health.
Then you have other alternatives in perhaps lowering your insurance premiums. Is it right to put together a health program in your company to incite your obese employees to get healthier?
Creating Health Incentives
This may be one of the best compromises available without going through the pain of secretly discriminating. You may be able to set up a health incentive program that persuades your obese employees to eat healthier and attempt to lose weight. You can offer prizes like vacation packages, or even monetary awards to those who can get in shape by a specific date. Even if this may seem like an office version of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”, it gives a real shot for promoting a healthier lifestyle within your company. It also gives you a chance to retain the talent you have without worrying about how much heavier they’ll get and whether it leads to health problems down the road.
This can be made a little easier using new wearable digital devices that track progress on workouts. Nike Fuelband is one popular device you might want to invest in for your overweight or obese employees to use as a method for setting a particular weight loss goal.
With these ideas in mind, discrimination may not need to be even mentioned any longer. In fact, the interview process should mention your health incentive program in advance so the obese employee can decide for themselves whether they want to work for you or not.