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Target wants its employees to get in shape

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(Read caption) A Target employee hands bags to a customer at the register at a Target store in Colma, Calif. Target is handing out free Fitbit activity trackers to its more than 300,000 employees as the retailer tries to portray itself as a healthier place for both customers and workers.

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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.

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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).

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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? 

This article first appeared in DealNews. 


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