Addressing privacy concerns when implementing employee well-being programs

When planning for a well-being program at your worksite, it’s important to anticipate questions and concerns from your employees. Privacy is one of the biggest concerns employees have before they start participating in a well-being program, and many questions about well-being programs revolve around privacy. A 2015 study by Tower Watson found that nearly one half (46%) of employees do not want their employer to have access to their personal health information, in part due to privacy concerns. To help alleviate these concerns, there are a few strategies you can incorporate before implementing a well-being program.

Familiarize yourself with privacy laws: The application of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rules to workplace well-being programs depends on the way the programs are structured. Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at for detailed information on how HIPAA rules apply to workplace well-being programs.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) also all have privacy rules around well-being programs.

Address how privacy will be protected: Your employees will be concerned that their employer will know their screening results or their responses to a health assessment questionnaire. They will also have concerns if you’re working with a third party vendor. It is important to develop a communication plan on how the employer and the third party vendor will be addressing your employees’ privacy. You can do this during open enrollment meetings, on program materials, and on the well-being portal. You can also share with your employees what security features are in place if there is a break-in or system breach.

Continue to address privacy: It’s important to consistently and regularly address your employees’ privacy concerns. This will ensure trust in your well-being program and lead to better engagement and satisfaction.

No well-being program can be truly successful unless there is trust and buy-in from the staff. As an employee, how do you think your employer can best address privacy issues so you will be willing to engage? Let us know in the comments section!