Employees Jump at Genetic Testing. Is That a Good Thing?
Levi Strauss & Company introduced a novel benefit for employees at its San Francisco headquarters last fall: free genetic screening to assess their hereditary risks for certain cancers and high cholesterol.
Chip Bergh, Levi’s chief executive, said he had hoped that the tests would spur employees to take preventive health steps and in that way reduce the company’s health care costs. But even Mr. Bergh was surprised by the turnout. Of the 1,100 eligible Levi’s employees, more than half took the genetic tests. Now, he wants to extend the benefit to employees in other cities.
“It really is a differentiator,” Mr. Bergh said.
West Coast companies vying for talent offer an unusual array of benefits like college loan repayment, egg freezing, surrogacy assistance and, for new mothers away on business trips, overnight breast milk shipping. Some companies have added genetic screening as well, and employees are lining up for the tests.