Employees Are What They Eat: Print

Corporate Employee Nutrition Programs

Companies With a Gold Star in Employee Nutrition

corporate employee nutrition programs

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Employee productivity is one of the key factors businesses cite to improve profits and reduce costs. Studies repeatedly show that healthier, less stressed employees are more productive. Nutrition is one of the most important yet neglected components of health and safety initiatives and workplace wellness programs.

Nutrition has an immediate impact on employee performance.
Too often corporate wellness programs focus on fitness and
miss the benefits of improved nutrition. 

– Andrea Holwegner, BSc, RD

Employees typically eat at work – meals, snacks and beverages. The more employers invest in healthier employees, the better their return on investment. A Harvard Business Review study found that the ROI on comprehensive, well-run employee wellness programs can be as high as 6 to 1.

Half of Canadians (49%) find it challenging
to eat a balanced diet when they are busy. 
Ipsos

Employee retention and job satisfaction programs often include food rewards and incentives such as unlimited coffee and sodas, pizza lunches or cupcakes and donuts at meeting and in the break room. While sweets and snacks can provide an immediate boost in energy, that boost is typically short-term – think ‘sugar high’ – and quickly results in a low energy slump and a reduction in productivity. Exactly what your business doesn’t want!  

Unhealthful eating increases the risk of low productivity by 66%

Population Health Management

A corporate wellness program that includes nutrition is likely to see improvements in employee health and productivity. Innovative organizations are incorporating nutrition into their wellness programs with the knowledge that a properly fueled workforce is good business… and good for business.

Not surprisingly, many tech companies are forerunners in employee nutrition programs. Their employee age tends to skew younger, and a younger workforce often prioritizes quality of life initiatives – and tech companies often have younger CEOs and leadership who recognize the bottom-line benefit of a healthier workforce.

Workplace nutrition initiatives aren’t just for big business. Organizations with limited resources have created creative healthy eating programs that factor in criteria such as remote employees, long work days, and highly competitive fields. These companies are leading the way in workplace employee nutrition initiatives – and following my principle, Live Deliciously!

  1. Facebook
    CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes that employee performance is influenced by environment, and that stress is a major contributor to workplace burnout and stress. Facebook’s wellness program includes a nutrition element:
  • Food breaks should be work-free to allow employees to de-stress.
  • Sitting all day is not good, so food breaks should be taken away from the employee’s desk.
  • Healthy food should be an option, but not a mandate.

Facebook’s NYC office houses Desimone, an on-site employee cafeteria that serves brain food — dark leafy greens, fruits, vegetables and lean protein, which studies have shown can increase workers’ thoroughness when eaten in the right ways – along with wide assortment of ethnic, casual and fun menu items. While Desimone encourages healthy eating, it doesn’t mandate it and offers a wide variety of foods. Desimone’s Chef Nathaniel Eckhaus says, “All businesses are looking for ways to increase productivity, recruit the best and offer a benefit that the employees will perceive as a huge benefit. Why not cross all three off the list in one single swipe and do it through food?”

  1. Ericsson Canada

Ericsson recently added a nutrition module to its online e-wellness program. E-Health connects to a free app called MyFitnessPal, which allows users to scan the products they consume and enter details about their daily eating habits, and provides employees with information and tips. “For somebody who’s just starting off on this road to well-being and focusing on a healthy lifestyle, they don’t look at nutrition labels, they don’t track their food, so they really have no idea how many calories they take in on a daily basis. Or when they think they’re splurging, they don’t really know how much of a splurge it is really,” says program director Susanne Gensch.

E-Health rewards employees with credits that can be used to purchase items and rebates on gym memberships. The nutrition module is promoted on on-site employee TV screens and internal social media.  

  1. Dropbox

Dropbox is known for easy saving and sharing of documents – and wanted to make it easy for employees to have easy healthy meals. Onsite cafeteria Tuck Shop offers healthy, delicious meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and never repeats a dish. Chef Brian Mattingly sources sustainable fish and hormone-free, nitrate-free meats and works with local food producers.

Dropbox fully understands the need to integrate fun foods into their corporate culture too: every new employee is awarded a DIY cupcake kit: a gluten-free, vegan-friendly, make-in-a-microwave-because-I-want-to-eat-it-right-now cupcake. (I’d like to of course see them expand to additional fun yet healthier options such as a DIY PB&J oatmeal kit for breakfast (jars of rolled oats, hemp hearts, peanut butter package, jam package and dried fruit).

  1. Google

Google uses behavioral science and social engineering to encourage employees to make thoughtful nutrition choices. With 24 hour cafés and mini kitchens stocked with nutritious, color-coded meals; smaller plates to help with portion control; and snacks like trail mix, fruits and nuts; Google seamlessly, almost invisibly, promotes healthier eating.

Google is also part of an international sustainability project to encourage people to eat more plant based options – and starting with the food it serves it’s employees. Plant “power dishes” developed by Google’s chefs nudges people to make healthier choices and Googlers are 71% more likely to eat healthier at work than outside of it. 

  1. Wegmans Food Markets

Wegman’s employee fitness challenge Eat Well. Live Well. focuses on:

  • walking 10K steps each day
  • eating 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day

Over 25% of their 40,000 employees participate in the challenge. Wegmans believes what their employees eat influences how they feel, and provides healthy food coupons, pedometers, information, resources and recipes to motivate and inform employees and their families.

  1.  Allstate Insurance of Canada

Allstate Insurance addressed the challenge of a mainly remote workforce. Award-winning Healthy Workplace Strategy has an integrated, 4-point strategy to wellness:

  • Nutrition
  • Financial
  • Physical
  • Mental

Meal planning seminars, healthy recipes and a program that rewards participation on an individual basis are core to the nutrition program. Allstate promotes leading by example, and encourages senior leadership to model healthy behaviors to their teams.

How to Implement a Healthy Eating Program

Employee nutrition programs can start small, and different sized companies can offer simple solutions to encourage their workforce to eat healthier:

  1. Amazon offers free bananas to all employees on its main campus.
  2. Meatless Mondays are a popular feature in many workplace cafeterias.
  3.  A paid app called Zipongo encourages healthy eating in the workplace and has been adopted by companies including IBM.
  4.  Install refrigerators and microwaves for employees to bring their own healthy meals and beverages from home.
  5. Provide healthy food options such as fresh fruits, raw veggies and hummus, salads, yogurt parfaits, cheese and veggie trays, fresh fruit smoothies as well as sparkling water and hot/cold unsweetened tea when ordering for staff meetings and events.  

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) conducted a survey on healthy eating in the workplace and found that while almost 50% of employers offer nutrition programs, more than 2/3 of HR professionals feel it is not their job to police employee’s food choices. The poll also found that 97% of employees do want healthy food choices at work:

Ultimately, the proactive approach to creating both formal and informal initiatives that support health and wellness, has been shown to have positive impacts on employees’ lives and organizations’ bottom lines.”

When starting an employee nutrition program in your workplace, consider the following:

  1.  Encourage and educate, don’t mandate healthy eating.
    Incorporating nutrition programs in the workplace should be voluntary in order to have achieve lasting results.
  2.  Incentives get results.
    Reinforce nutrition values through peer groups, leading by example and programs that provide motivation for employees to make healthy food choices, such as competitions and rewards for changes.
  3.  Stress management and wellness programs provide balance.
    Healthier, happier employees create a corporate culture that values a healthy lifestyle.

Benefits Beyond Work

The benefits of educating employees about healthy food options extends beyond the work day: those employees bring their newfound knowledge home and make heathy food choices for their family. They choose restaurants that offer healthier menus. They shop at stores favoring healthier foods versus convenience foods. Not only do employee nutrition programs improve the health of today’s employees, they can improve the health of the next workforce generation.

The bottom line is, healthier employees can improve the bottom line of your organization.

 

Looking for further assistance with developing your employee nutrition program?  Contact us

 

How does your workplace rate with nutrition?

Download our Workplace Nutrition Scorecard

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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