Tag: employee

Smokers and Fat People Need Not Apply

Employers are heading down a slippery slope by banning employees from smoking not just on the job but at any time.  More specifically, there is a growing rank of employers won’t even hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine.  While these companies are typically hospitals or other organizations in the healthcare industry, Alaska Airlines is now on the roster of those anti-smoker employers.  Such tobacco-free hiring policies are designed to reduce insurance premiums for all workers.  Makes sense.  But beware!  Selective hiring as such, if it is embraced, could mean that overweight or obese people are next on the “Do Not Hire” list.

Each year, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths and costs the nation $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity.  Okay, I get it!  If a company does not hire smokers, then the logic is that overall employee insurance premiums go down, because overall healthcare costs for the company go down.  Another victory for the non-smokers, and insurance companies!  Let’s just hope that these nicotine-free employees are not fat, too.

In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion, and the medical costs paid by third-parties for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.  All trends point to obesity becoming an increasing healthcare issue.   About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese, and this population is “growing”.  But, wouldn’t this be discrimination?  Aren’t obese employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?  Not really.

The EEOC’s position is that the ADA covers morbid obesity (defined as having a body weight more than 100% over the norm) and obesity caused by a physiological disorder.  Courts don’t have to follow the EEOC’s lead, however.  Some have rejected the view that morbid obesity, in and of itself, is an ADA impairment.  For example, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that “…to constitute an ADA impairment, a person’s obesity, even morbid obesity, must be the result of a physiological condition.”  (EEOC v. Watkins Motor Lines, Inc., 6th Cir., No. 05-3218, 2006).

So, out with the smokers and fat people! Taken to an extreme, the least expensive solution for employers would be to have DNA screens of all applicants to weed out those other people with propensities to develop Alzheimer’s and particularly costly cancers.  Hmmm.  If we think hard enough here at HRInsights, we could probably come up with a good reason to not hire people with tattoos, too.

HRInsights’ Weekly Lightbulb 10/21

This Week’s HRI “Lightbulb”  – Feedback

Ever ask for feedback?  It’s not human nature, but try it out with another employee who works for you or who you don’t know that well.  You may actually learn something important.  Go on!  Try it once every couple of weeks.  I don’t have the scads of research in front of me, but just asking for feedback also builds employee loyalty (in addition to them doing a more committed job).

Dog Days of Summer: Useful Time Killers!

Frank McCabe is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The Beacon Group, a Massachusetts-based construction, logistics and facility services firm.

Summer time at the office – often a slow and less than energetic atmosphere.  Every week, another colleague or employee is off on vacation.  So are your customers.  Prospects find new and interesting reasons to blow you off.  Everyone is even more conscious of the clock as they look to get out of dodge as early as possible to enjoy the daylight.  No surprise to anyone and it is simply human nature.

With that said, summer can be a great time to take charge of the aspects of your work life that always find their way to the back burner when business is booming.  The next time you find yourself surfing the web because your boss is white water rafting in Colorado or your top performer is taking the 6th Friday in a row off, be productive with the down time.

A few ideas….

  • Learn!

The web offers a million different (and oftentimes FREE) on-line classes in every discipline.  Brush up on new social media tools.  Take that advanced MS Office class you have been meaning to do.  For you brave souls, you could even investigate how you might get that advanced degree that has hindered your professional progress and advancement.

  • Mundane Meetings

When times are busy, we are all pros at blowing off certain meetings that just are not important to us at that time.  Summer slow down is a perfect time to get these behind you.

  • No small fish!

Visit with your smaller clients – make them feel as important as the ‘whales.’  (BTW – you should be doing this all the time, but I understand!)

  • FREE Lunch!

Take someone on your team to lunch.  Whether it is your ‘rain maker’ or simply the guy or gal that needs a little pick me up.  These gestures are always appreciated and give that extra motivation – especially when the temptation to duck out a little early is at its highest.

  • Clean up!

When all else fails; clean up!  Clean up your office, your cube, your desk.  Clean up your PC – you know you have files saved all over the place despite your contention that it all has “a system.”  Yes, this is a boring and menial task, yet we all feel better when things are in order (don’t worry, it won’t last long!)

None of these ideas are the fun undertakings we dream about when we think about the passing of summer, but they are nonetheless important…and will make the time pass before your next vacation!