Bonuses — also known as "variable pay," "pay for performance," or "performance incentives" in the compensation world — are usually framed as rewards for stellar work or contributions toward employer success. Hit your traffic goals for the year? Here's your bonus. Sell enough widgets? Here's your bonus. Reduce website loading speed by X percent? Nice work. Here's your bonus.
For most of us, our bonus, if we receive one, is not tied to our physical attributes.
But Eddie Lacy, the newest running back on the Seattle Seahawks professional football team, is a notable exception.
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Pay to weigh
Lacy was a breakout star for the Green Bay Packers in his first two seasons, but he arrived for training camp overweight and out of shape in 2015, issues that contributed to a subpar season. Last week he was signed to a one-year deal by the running-back-needy Seahawks, news that elicited a degree of excitement in Seattle. But reports soon revealed his weight had again jumped this past off-season, this time by almost 40 pounds! According to ESPN, Lacy went from the 231 pounds he weighed in college to a reported weight of nearly 270 pounds when he visited the Seahawks.
Now, few of us can claim we now weigh what we did in college. But for a professional athlete, particularly one who relies on speed to do his job and has a history of weight issues, gaining nearly 40 pounds in the small part of the year you're not training and playing football can cause a certain amount of concern among your fans, coaches and the people writing your checks.
That's why the Seahawks included a weight clause in Lacy's contract, which will pay him $55,000 on seven separate occasions every time he hits a specific benchmark. (By way of comparison, according to PayScale's data, the median income for United States' workers is $49,700 … annually.)
Per ESPN, "The numbers are 255 pounds in May; 250 pounds in June and August; and 245 pounds in September, October, November and December."
So, Lacy can make $385,000 simply by laying off the "China food." Good work, if you can get it.
Food for thought
Of course, the Seahawks last star running back was fond of a particular food, too. Marshawn Lynch — aka "Beast Mode" — has a well-documented weakness for Skittles, to the point Seahawks fans would shower him with the colorful candy every time he scored a touchdown.
Will we now bombard Eddie Lacy with handfuls of fried rice and General Tso's chicken whenever he bulls his way into the end zone? If so, I hope workers on the grounds crew at Centurylink Field have a hefty bonus clause built into their contract, too.
A belly-trimming bonus?
Given the benefits seen by employers of healthy workers, physical fitness is actually being incentivized not only for elite athletes, but for desk jockeys as well. A CNN report published last year noted that, "Workplace wellness programs are gaining popularity, and more than 80 percent of large employers are now using some form of financial incentive to increase physical activity." And for good reason.
As reported by Forbes:
A 2010 study by Harvard Business Review found that employers who invest in workplace wellness programs saved on health insurance premiums, reduced absenteeism and time off for medical care, enjoyed greater productivity and improved employee morale.
Does this mean we'll soon be seeing fitness and weight-loss incentives in the tens of thousands of dollars for salespeople, marketers and software developers? Unlikely, but I'll take any added motivation I can get to take the stairs instead of the elevator on the way to the first of my afternoon meetings.