Human Resources News & Insights

Conquering employee fears about health risk assessments

Most company wellness programs lean heavily on biometric screenings/health risk assessments to be successful at driving down health spending. Problem is, many workers aren’t willing to participate in these evaluations, making it hard to get wellness initiatives off the ground.  

So what do you do when workers are standoffish about your screenings? Confront their fears head-on.

Corporate Wellness Solutions, a provider of biometric screenings, has heard all the employee excuses for not wanting to participate, and it has offered advice to employers on how to overcome the most common.

Here’s a rundown:

1. ‘I’d rather not know’

Polls across the country have confirmed that the majority of people would rather not be told by their doctors if they had a terminal illness. They’d prefer to go on living as if nothing was wrong.

While you’re usually not talking about life and death scenarios in company wellness screenings, the same principle applies: Some employees would rather remain apathetic to their problems than face them.

Some simply don’t want to have to deal with the stress of knowing they have high cholesterol or blood pressure.

What you should do: Hammer home the point that dealing with issues now will actually cause less stress in the long term — because resolving minor problems now can prevent more serious issues and mental anguish down the road.

2. ‘I prefer my privacy’

Many workers fear their health info will be shared for any number of nefarious purposes. They see all kinds of stories about identity theft and what can happen when their info falls into the wrong hands, and they begin to assume the worst will happen to them.

In addition, many sign HIPAA releases at their doctor’s offices without actually reading them or knowing what they’re for — so they don’t realize their health info is actually protected by law.

What you should do: Remind them that laws like HIPAA — and the harsh non-compliance penalties that come with them — are in place to protect their health information.

Then fill workers in on all of the steps your company and any third parties it works with take to make sure their private information is kept confidential.

Lastly, tell workers why you’re collecting health information and what you’re going to do with it. As the experts at Corporate Wellness Solutions say, “Transparency is crucial.”

3. ‘I hate needles’

This one’s tricky. Chances are if your workers hate needles, there’s little you can do to get them over their fear. But that doesn’t mean your hands are tied.

What you should do: Work with whomever is administering your screenings and see if there’s any way they can perform the tests without sticking your workers with big, long needles. For example, ask if they can perform fingerstick tests instead.

If your wellness partner agrees to perform fingerstick tests, make sure you let your employees know they won’t have to face the needles they’ve come to hate.

Another possibility: Some tests can be done using saliva. A simple mouth swab is a highly desirable alternative to a needle for many folks.

This post originally ran on our sister website,

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