Target challenges associates to shape up with Fitbit

Discussion
Oct 01, 2015

Target plans to give each of its 335,000 U.S. employees a free or discounted Fitbit activity and sleep tracking device (depending on the chosen model) as part of its Fall Fitbit Challenge.

The discount giant will also be hosting group Activity Challenges using a corporate wellness platform from Fitbit to support wellness and community, according to a statement on its Bullseye blog.

Employees who opt-in are placed on a team for a month-long competition. Teams that log the highest average number of daily steps from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15 will share $1 million, to be distributed to local wellness non-profits of their choice. To support the program, Target noted that it made one of the largest corporate wellness group purchases of Fitbit devices to date.

Target is also offering a new wellness discount that gives all U.S. employees an additional 20 percent off fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, Simply Balanced items and C9 activewear, on top of their existing employee discount. Additionally, career growth and career planning support are being enhanced to help focus on "longevity and personal fulfillment" at Target.

Target health team

Source: Target Bullseye View video

The employee wellness initiatives are part of Target’s new focus on wellness across its business, including the promotion of healthy eating, active living and clean label solutions at the store level.

"We believe Target is uniquely positioned to help improve the health of our team and the nation by making wellness the way of life where people live, learn, work, play and shop," the company said.

Bloomberg noted that Adobe, BP and Redbox have also used the Fitbit Wellness program. Google, Microsoft and others are opening gyms at their headquarters to get their employees active.

Creating a health-focused company can be positive for employee retention in addition to possibly improving health care costs. Amy McDonough, director of Fitbit Wellness, told Bloomberg that Appirio, a Fitbit customer, reduced its health costs by six percent during the first year of using the company’s wearables.

Some articles questioned how effective Target’s programs will be given that Fitbits generally appeal to those who are already active. Writing for Christian Science Monitor, Angela Colle also noted that Target’s management will be able to see who opts in or not and have "the ability to monitor any employee’s progress — or lack of progress — at any time."

What do you see as the pros and cons of corporate wellness programs for employees? Will they and should they become a bigger part of retailer initiatives in the years ahead?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The pros are fairly self-evident. But there is, of course, the philosophical question of how much an employer ought to get involved in the personal lives of their employees who, after all, signed on to work not to be adopted."
"As the battle for talent continues, these programs can be seen as differentiators. The key will be whether health and fitness programs become part of the company’s DNA or whether they are jettisoned the first time that finances become tough."
"I think the Fitbit idea is a good employee benefit that other retailers should copy. Healthy employees are more productive employees. As it happens I wear a Fitbit, and I think it’s pretty cool."

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8 Comments on "Target challenges associates to shape up with Fitbit"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
6 years 7 months ago
The pros are fairly self-evident. For the company, a healthier work force means fewer sick days taken, a probable reduction in certain on-the-job injuries, lower insurance premiums over time, etc. For the individual there are obvious benefits from stress reduction to longevity. So, the idea is “all good” as they say, right? Well … maybe not so fast. There is, of course, the philosophical question of how much an employer ought to get involved in the personal lives of their employees who, after all, signed on to work not to be adopted. And the creation of a “winners culture” where good folks are thin and fit and eat right automatically creates a “loser culture” of nonparticipants or those who can’t stick with the program. Anyone who ever attended high school may remember how easy it is for human beings to form tribes of “jocks” and “nerds” or whatever. And let’s face it, people essentially promote themselves, so a nonparticipant with great skills is likely to be disadvantaged over a fitness nut with adequate skills if… Read more »
Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
6 years 7 months ago

The fact that Target is demonstrating concern for their employees’ health and fitness is admirable. More and more of the best companies are using these programs as differentiators for hiring and incentives for retention. As the battle for talent continues, these programs can be seen as differentiators.

The key will be whether health and fitness programs become part of the company’s DNA or whether they are jettisoned the first time that finances become tough.

Dick Seesel
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I agree with Ryan’s points. Target’s focus on wellness is good for business and for its brand image, and providing extra incentives (discounts, etc.) for its own associates is to be applauded. Where the Fitbit program crosses the line is management’s reported ability to see who opts into the program and to monitor their progress. In the interest of wellness, perhaps Target ought to look at its eligibility standards for health insurance too.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

The pros of a more fit workforce are obvious. The process of how to get there is challenging. How do you encourage and motivate employees to be involved without creating an in-group/out-group division among members of the team which could hurt team morale and having employees fear retaliation if not successful?

A month-long competition may work. Competition for a longer period makes it more difficult to not cross into the negative set of results.

Providing discounts for purchasing healthy food sounds like a good idea if accommodations can be made for employees who can’t eat some of the “healthy” food for their individual health reasons.

Guarding against the fear of retaliation is a real issue that needs to be addressed as well. Finding the line that works is difficult. It remains to be seen whether this plan will work.

Kevin Graff
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Healthy bodies = healthy minds = healthy attitudes = healthy productivity.

Good for the business, and a good move by any employer who understands the need to create a great work experience for their employees.

John Karolefski
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I think the Fitbit idea is a good employee benefit that other retailers should copy. Healthy employees are more productive employees. As it happens I wear a Fitbit, and I think it’s pretty cool.

James Tenser
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Promoting, enabling, encouraging wellness and healthy lifestyle = good. Management scrutiny of employee lifestyle data = bad.

It’s OK to hand out Fitbits as an employee benefit, along with confidential counseling. Collecting and aggregating personal health data is questionable. Using the data to shame employees into prescribed lifestyle choices is problematic. What’s next, pre-shift weigh-ins and blood glucose tests?

It’s not quite clear from the articles whether Fitbit protects individual data under its corporate program. If they do, I’d be a little more comfortable with it. Management should be very thoughtful about how it defines team goals, so as not to create a workplace that is healthful for some, but toxic for others.

Paul Stanton
Guest
Paul Stanton
6 years 7 months ago

Dick Seesel says it all—he is right on.

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Braintrust
"The pros are fairly self-evident. But there is, of course, the philosophical question of how much an employer ought to get involved in the personal lives of their employees who, after all, signed on to work not to be adopted."
"As the battle for talent continues, these programs can be seen as differentiators. The key will be whether health and fitness programs become part of the company’s DNA or whether they are jettisoned the first time that finances become tough."
"I think the Fitbit idea is a good employee benefit that other retailers should copy. Healthy employees are more productive employees. As it happens I wear a Fitbit, and I think it’s pretty cool."

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