File Under Creepy: Company Tracks Employee Health Habits to Compare Job Performance

Should your personal health habits be measured in the workplace?

Here’s a way to help you lower stress, sleep better at night and not eat yourself into a sugar-fueled frenzy: Let your boss track your sleep, diet and exercise habits to find out how they help or hinder your performance at work.

If that doesn’t make you feel like a lab rat running on a hamster wheel, we’re not sure what will.

Nonetheless, that’s what Citizen, a company in Portland, Ore., is doing. The project, C3PO, which stands for Citizen Evolutionary Process Organism, asks employees to track their food, sleep and exercise and upload it to a central server within the company.

It then compares that data against time tracking applications to find out how what you do on your own time affects your efficiency at the office.

According to Wired, the express purpose of this data-crunching endeavor is to “show employees how they can improve their work through better personal habits.”

Yay! Because being less disposable to my company is exactly what I want to be thinking about when jogging at the end of a long workday. Way to suck all of the joy and stress relief out of the most cathartic activities of our day.

The program was designed by Quinn Simpson, an employee at the company, as part of a pet project and so far, participation is voluntary. Citizen can only access data that employees give them access to and employees can take their data with them when they leave the company. As Simpson told Wired, “We’re sort of waiving our rights to privacy while we figure this out,” he says.

Feeling like our personal health goals are tied to how many items we check off of our to-do list at work feels like the very antithesis of wellness. Healthy habits should be something that we’re doing for ourselves to feel better. But when workers are already feeling the crunch from downsizing and hiring freezes, the last thing they need to be thinking about when trying to get healthy is how this is going to impact their jobs.

If you want to get that granular with your health stats for your own personal edification, that’s one thing (I’m sure for a certain type of balls-to-the-wall athlete, it’s a huge motivator). Allowing your company access to this information, however, feels wrong. Even though the supposed purpose of the program is to help people see how healthy habits can improve all corners of their life, corporations could use it to determine an employee’s intrinsic value to the company, and perhaps even punish those who are overweight.

Other companies, like Britain’s Tesco (owners of the Fresh & Easy supermarket chain in the U.S.) already use digital armbands to track the speed of warehouse staff. If you don’t complete your task in the allotted time, you earn fewer points. Take too many bathroom breaks? Your employee rank falls.

Employee well-being and productivity hinges on factors such as interactions with coworkers, laughter breaks and what kind of mood your boss is in. To that end, some employers offer lunchtime yoga or breaks where employees can watch an Arrested Development episode -- which to us seems like a much better use of time and resources. One could argue that inputting all of that data into various computer programs takes quite a bit of time that could be better spent getting work done. Then you'll have time to go home to cook a healthy meal and exercise.

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