Activision Blizzard incentivises staff to share reproductive health data

Pregnancy and app

Something for the weekend: Video game organisation Activision Blizzard is paying female employees $1 a day to track their reproductive health via an app, with the US-based organisation receiving anonymised and aggregated data on employees’ fertility.

According to The Washington Post, Activision Blizzard has partnered with family planning and wellness app Ovia to give female employees access to a voluntary digital pregnancy tracking service. Staff that use the app are incentivised with a $1 reward for every day they engage with the programme; this value is loaded onto a gift card for employees to use as and when they wish.

Health data collected from the app is then presented in an aggregated form on an internal website for the employer, accessible by HR staff. This information includes when women are first trying to conceive through to early motherhood.

The organisation says the driving force behind the unusual initiative is to help female staff have healthy babies, to avoid the lack of concentration and stress of having a child who requires neonatal care. The programme also aims to reduce Activision Blizzard’s medical costs.

Milt Ezzard, vice president of global benefits at Activision Blizzard, told The Washington Post: “I want [female staff] to have a healthy baby because it’s great for our business experience. Rather than having a baby who’s in the neonatal [intensive care unit], where she’s not able to focus much on work.”

Ezzard told the American newspaper that around 20 women who were diagnosed as infertile have since conceived after using the app; approximately 50 female employees are using Ovia to monitor their reproductive health.

Activision Blizzard is no stranger to collecting employee data. Since 2014, the organisation has incentivised the use of Fitbits and other tracking devices to gather information on employees’ mental health, sleep, diet, autism-related needs, exercise and cancer care.

Ezzard told The Washington Post that the collected health information is handled by a third-party data warehouse and is, therefore, strictly controlled to prevent the organisation identifying employees.

“Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry. But we slowly increased the sensitivity of stuff and eventually people understood it’s all voluntary, there’s no gun to [their heads] and we’re going to reward [employees] if [they] choose to do it. People’s sensitivity has gone from: ‘hey Activision Blizzard is Big Brother’, to ‘hey, Activision Blizzard really is bringing me tools that can help me out,’” Ezzard concluded.

Here at Employee Benefits, we think this sounds like fertile ground for an invasion of privacy. The fact that the programme is voluntary gets a thumbs up from us, though, as it puts the ball firmly in the employees’ court.