Friday, March 22, 2013

More Thoughts about CVS

So, I was thinking some more about the whole CVS thing,  specifically about this part of their new policy

 “Going forward, you'll be expected not just to know your [blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass and body weight] numbers—but also to take action to manage them.”

And I thought—what the hell.

Because it seems to me that CVS is trying to peddle this policy as their entitlement. That because these are CVS employees on CVS insurance policies and these policies cost CVS money, that somehow, all of this translates into—

“We own you.”

In fact, a commenter on CNBC's online coverage of the story said just that. He (or she) wrote “Just another example of a big corporation thinking it owns its employees…”

Because come on. CVS is actually taking as its due the ability to tell employees when to go to the damn doctor and how to manage their healthcare.

And somehow, we’re accepting this as normal and reasonable. As though offering employees money in exchange for time and talent is not enough. As though CVS employees owe CVS more than that. And I’m saying, when did this become okay? Actually, I’m saying more than that. I’m saying—dammit, why is this okay?

You know what. I’m going to blame HR. At least in part.

HR, and its whole “human capital” campaign, has gotten our heads screwed up, I fear, and some business leaders actually do seem to think of their employees as commodities, corporate appendages even, an extension of the corporal body.

Now, I know the other side of this coin. I am an HR professional, okay? And maybe I’m delusional, but I happen to think that I do “balanced” pretty well. So, I get that CVS has a right to protect its financial interests. I’m simply saying, for God’s sakes, find another way, CVS. You’re treating your people like chattel, like their privacy and right to make choices is no more than a freakin inconvenience to you making money and not worthy of serious consideration, because your interests matter but theirs don’t. 

And correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t these the same people who complain about the government interfering with their privacy? Their rights to run their business as they see fit? Regardless of the affect on the community? It’s offensive, truly.

And please don’t tell me anything about how no one is putting a gun to these employees’ heads and if they don’t like the policies they can leave and work somewhere else. Because you and I both know the playing field is not even, here. And while I don’t begrudge CVS decision makers the authority they’ve earned as a result of the work they’ve invested to build their business, I still wonder about the moral responsibility to use authority with wisdom (and how about some damn compassion while you’re at it), not just to further or maintain your own gains.

Not quite this, but not that far off, either.
So again, I hope CVS re-thinks this one. 


  1. Dear Crystal,
    Reading this here in Germany, Your post left some ???? on my forehead.
    ? No.1: why is an act like the one You describe legal in the US? Land of the free? Yes You can do what You want UNLESS it affects the freedom or dignity of another human. You are not allowed to kill or steal, why should You be allowed to interfere with the privacy and dignity of an employee?????? In Germany this company would be closed within hours.
    ? No. 2: Did anyone over there miss the upcoming war on talents? The playground IS definetly changing! You can mistreat Your employees another 2-3 Years but then You will loose the most important asset of Your company the moment You need it... when the economy is going up.
    ? No.3: Didn´t the 1. of may start in Chicago? Don´t they have any union at CVS?
    ? No.4: What went wrong with the expression human capital? This term was formed to compare companies with mainly human capital like consulting companies to companies with capital like Land, houses etc. A major factor is the motivation and commitment of the staff. The way HR is doing GOOD SERVICE!! for the humans in Your company is compareable to servicing machines (I know from an anthropological point of view that sounds awful!!) but the system is straight and works. Read the Gallup study about the commitment index. There You have it in numbers. I do not know the US statistic but in Germany the companies loose some 120-150 billion euro (nearly up to 200 billion $) A YEAR due to disengaged employees. You can put a gun to soomeones head, but you cannot say "marry me" at the same time and expect this connection to be happy, lasting and rewarding.
    You loose.

    finally ? No. 5 What´s next? a statistic, that humans in Love work 4% slower than those that are sexually frustrated, so You have to pay 4% off You wage as long as You are in love untill You are frustrated? ;-)))) Oh its fun to think about new items... ;-)))
    Best regards from Hamburg/Germany

  2. Dear Thomas:

    Greetings from the US! So good to hear a view from clear across the Atlantic. (I think it's the Atlantic. I was a pretty bad geography student.)

    Anyhoo, I love this: "You can put a gun to someones head, but you cannot say "marry me" at the same time and expect this connection to be happy, lasting and rewarding."

    No you cannot. I hope the economy improves soon. There are so many unhappy workers looking to make a change, but right now they can't. And employers don't seem to care how disengaged workers are, because as long as they can squeeze productivity out of them to get "good enough" work it's all good enough. Ugh.