While I was in college, I worked for a company who did not hire people who smoked. We manufactured medical equipment, so in a way, the policy made sense. Try having to explain this policy in the screening process. Part of my job responsibility was to pre-screen candidates by phone, ask if they were smokers, and then, if applicable, set up an interview with the hiring manager. Of course, I was told many times that what we were doing was discrimination, but many others understood and thought it made sense for the industry we were in.
Lately, I hear more about the idea of rewarding healthier employees, for example, non-smokers or those who participate in a preventative option through the company. Obviously some human resource professionals agree with this idea, while others are very hesitant, fearing a backlash. I am not going to try to sway you one way or the other, but I thought I would share my experiences for those wondering if it is a good option or not.
First, you will never make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try. I think being in the medical device industry allowed my past employer an edge to pull off the no-smoking concept. It was a nice fit. We certainly didn't have a lack of resumes coming in, but I'm sure we burned a few bridges for possible great hires.
Another company I worked for promoted smoking cessation and the health benefits involved. They didn't go so far as to offer rebates on healthcare costs but they offered some small incentives. I do remember one woman thanking me for the little extra push she needed to try again. This is a great option for those not sure which way to lean in the idea of incenting employees to live healthier lives. Find a few areas to focus on and use small things like gift cards as an incentive. I recently attended a health fair for a sponsor company who offers incentives with their health plan. It is optional to participate and seemed to require a committment from the employee for them to be able to gain the incentive; however, it was more of an educational process. Not...quit smoking or you will pay more than your non-smoking co-workers.
After all this, my suggestion would be to consider your unique industry and staff. Then consider the effects (good and bad) that the decision will have on your company and your human resource department.
Anyone willing to share their take on incenting the healthy? What is working for you or not working?