Target Gives its Employees Fitbits, Can Monitor Their Fitness Progress

It's part of a team competition (with money going to the charity-of-choice for the winning team), but wellness at work is a growing trend.
Target Fitbit

When it comes to keeping you healthy, soon your biggest motivator might not be a walking buddy or personal trainer, it might be your employer.

Target recently announced the company will offer Fitbits — the wearable activity trackers — to all of its 335,000 U.S. employees, according to BloombergBusiness.

The goal is to get employees moving and improving their health. Currently, employees who opt-in to the program can receive either a free Zip, Fitbit's smaller clip-on device, or be reimbursed for the popular wristband device.

Employees who opt-in are placed on a team for a monthlong competition. The winning team will get a donation for the charity of their choice.

A Growing Trend for Corporations to Encourage Employee Wellness

Target isn't the only company to offer Fitbits.

According to BloombergBusiness, corporate clients only make up less than 10% of Fitbit's portfolio, but some of those clients include big names like Adobe, BP, and Redbox. And these companies represent a growing trend among many corporations to improve their wellness reputation.

At EMC, employees who complete certain healthy activities like joining a gym, are rewarded with lower medical contribution costs through the company's Healthy Rewards Program, according to Greatist. Microsoft offers an on-site gym, while Google's headquarters offers four on-site gyms. The company also recently added community bikes for employee use. And the biotech company, Genetech, hosts an on-site farmers market for employees.

Many employers have jumped on this trend. Adding wellness programs can improve employee's health, which in turn lowers the company's health care costs. And having a reputation as a healthy-focused company can improve employee retention, but it may not all be good news.

Is This Involvement in Your Health Too Invasive?

Some may consider certain aspects of a company's wellness plan questionable. At Google, for example, any food provided at the company's on-site cafeterias and cafes are marked either green or red labels (green for healthy, red for unhealthy).

On the one hand, employees can make healthier choices faster. On the other, everyone will know who took the red cookie.

At Target, employees who opt-in will also be added to Fitbit's progress dashboard. Through the dashboard, individuals can track their own progress. But Target's management team will also have access to the dashboard, with the ability to monitor any employee's progress — or lack of progress — at any time.

So what do you think? Does this growing wellness trend make you want to jump ship for a free Fitbit or can you see a potential downside of your boss knowing about your fitness progress? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Angela Colley
Contributing Writer

Angela Colley has covered everything from money saving technology to how the Mayans might affect your savings. She's appeared on publications like MainStreet and MSN Money. You can follow her on Twitter @angelancolley.
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Unfortunately the measuring of employee health is going to continue and get more intrusive. The US view that individuals should be able to do almost anything they want has led to a culture of invasiveness by employers who have been allowed to get more and more into their workers personal lives. While there are still boundaries, anything that an employer pays for allows them to gain control over what was once private information. Remember that Smartphone is only yours as long as you don't use the company email.

The alternative is a lack of benefits (don't sign up for fitbit or don't achieve a healthy status and your insurance goes up or away).
That is great! Kudos to Target!
My previous employer had some wellness goals (participate in a 5k, daily exercises through apps or a gym, etc...). They had 4 levels and you needed to achieve at least level 2 or you would have an increase on your health insurance policy. It wasn't an option, everybody after hire was enroll in the program :/
Target, with their main corporate office in downtown Minneapolis, is merely late to the party and following the other companies in downtown Minneapolis who have issued Fitbits to their employees. This is not new.

Walk down the busy parts of the business district during the weekday and you will find many people with Fitbits.