This piece is supported Draft Economic Troubleshooting Reports.
During the first few weeks of working in a grocery store, I noticed that many of my colleagues were in pain. Roger, a treasurer for many years, suffered a double stress injury in the right corner, the joint he used for years to move groceries from the conveyor belt to the right digital scanner. Nina, a cashier, woke up one day with a broken leg, which she believed was the result of years of being on the scrapbook. Ben, a stockbroker who has been carrying heavy items in the store for over a decade, told me that sometimes his legs are so swollen that he can barely walk.
Everyone, despite their illnesses, continued to work. What choice did they have? Almost all of their suffering was caused or exacerbated by our low wages and handicrafts. However, it was for these jobs that they had to return every day to survive.
In this mix of illness, pain, and impossible choices, there is a corporate health program that I will call Rocket Health. I first learned about Rocket Health when I noticed that some of my colleagues wore the same smartwatch. They told me they had scored points, allowing the device to track how many steps they had taken in one day. There was also the Rocket Health program, which encouraged users to take part in various “health challenges”. Employees could earn points by taking daily walks or learning new words from the dictionary. Points can be exchanged for gift certificates, even in cash.
Download a program և get free money? What was the hunt?
I did some research and found out that Rocket Health is owned by the global venture capital company. The program is used in thousands of jobs around the world.
Corporate health is not new. In the 1950s, such programs were first implemented to effectively employ white-collar workers in the office. But these days, the industry is increasingly targeting working-class people who, as one recent article puts it, have “inconsistent access to health care, high levels of stress, and limited financial resources.” My colleagues and I are complying with the bill. I wondered what Rocket Health should offer us, other than the opportunity to earn a few extra dollars.
The app created poor mental health as a result of personal decisions.
To find out, you must first provide your personal information. When I downloaded Rocket Health, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire about everything from my diet to a typical week of regular sleep and exercise. Then the program spat out my overall health rating. Because I sometimes felt the weakness of sugary drinks and fried foods, I was told I had to “challenge myself” to eat better. I was advised to “pack healthy snacks in advance” and check the frozen vegetable aisle in my supermarket.
Whether the illnesses my co-workers suffered from were related to our physically demanding, poorly paid jobs, Rocket Health identified every potential health problem as a result of wrong thinking or bad decisions. The survey asked me to “think clearly” about my “lifestyle choices,” words that implied that I was solely responsible for feeling sick or in pain.
Mental health is what Rocket Health sees as a completely personal matter. In the section on the stress-depression survey that asked me to check out a list of questions that bothered me. I mentioned things like “money”, “housing costs” և “job stability”. Which grocery store employee, I thought, wouldn’t worry about that? Completing the survey directly was a stressful reminder of the broader conditions that could not be mitigated by wearing a smartwatch or receiving nutrition advice via text message.
Rocket Health also identified poor mental health as a result of the decisions. To combat my stress, the app did not recommend that I try to improve my workplace or get paid. Instead, he suggested that I “do something good for someone” because “friends and family are good for your health.” I was also advised to “think about what I learned in a difficult situation.” “An optimistic attitude,” the program argued, “can help you overcome life’s twists and turns.” I was trying to think of something I could learn from a job that shocked me by repeating for hours և was too worn out to do many things but on the weekends. I was stunned.
Most likely, these supplements will encourage some people to improve their diet և they will make the benefits of exercise. What’s wrong with that? The problem is that treating serious social problems as a result of a lack of individual effort is especially detrimental to the class of workers who mainly have their bodies to sell. As grocery store employees, we do not get paid if we are unable to perform physical tasks. The same problems that wear down our muscles, joints և bones ժամանակ over time, which will inevitably make us useless for the only job that most of us have. When did they have it?
The main function of the Rocket Health program is to give the illusion of choice to employees who do not control their working conditions or what can happen to them when they are no longer useful to employers. As manual workers, our working days are numbered, regardless of our “lifestyle choices.” This is what it means to sell your body for a salary.
Everyone, from employees to managers, understands this. Rocket Health even advertises itself as a way for employers to “work less with fewer people.” Employers need bodies, but not many. This is a horrible reality for those of us who live in fear of the day when our muscles contract, when our bones finally break, or when our illnesses endure too much.
In the meantime, we are playing a corporate health game. Scoring points on the app is the only option many of us have to try to stay a little longer in an area where we can still do the work that will eventually make our ongoing work impossible.
Corporate health is full of such contradictions. Or as everyone knows, handicrafts can’t work forever, a kind of endless work is exactly what Rocket Health aims to make possible. One of my colleagues recently told me that he has earned over 60,000 points in the app, which is a great achievement. He has probably spent months responding to alarms, allowing the smartwatch to take back every step of the way, taking part in health challenges. His body, in a sense, never left the store. “What are you going to do with the money?” I asked. My colleague said that he was going to buy something good for his wife. A gift he could not afford otherwise.
Participating in corporate health, my grocery store employee was able to follow a piece of advice from the program. Do something good for someone. But it turned out that what he really needed was not to slip out of the program to be healthier. He needed money.