Most Americans spend half of their waking hours at work and many consume food and beverages acquired at their office, so it’s no surprise that clients are remaining focused on their associate’s wellbeing1. A recent study found that food and beverages consumed at work are often high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars – the higher consumption of such nutrients has been shown to increase risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes1. However, our client – an international medical device manufacturing company – is using a multi-faceted approach implemented through phases to reach their goal of having the healthiest employees in the world and is seeing tremendous success.
Our client feels that healthy employees – as it relates to eating, physical activity and mindfulness – leads to a more successful and effective workplace. Their wellness program has expanded since its inception in 2014 and now includes 12 different elements to drive the healthy eating program.
The first phase of the rollout focused on educating and engaging employees and families on healthy eating principles by offering fun events with sampling where appropriate. The client is currently in the second phase which covers a few different elements – promoting healthy food and beverage choices via positioning, pricing, and nutritional labeling, offering free produce three or more times per week to accommodate 25-50% of the employee on-site population, and providing only a limited amount of beverages with artificial sweeteners, while no beverage with over 5 grams of added sugar per 12 ounces is allowed, such as soda and energy drinks. Certain healthy items (fruit, oatmeal, salads, and yogurt) were discounted 10% in 2018, 15% in 2019 and reaching the client’s final goal of 20% in 2020.
Overall, these changes will ensure that 80% of the food available onsite is prepared in a healthy way using nutritious ingredients, and that all meals are served in reasonable portions and under 700 calories and under 600 mg sodium.
Since the roll out of the healthy eating program two years ago, sales of healthy items have increased from 48% to 51% of total café sales. This is important to acknowledge as the prices of these healthy items have actually decreased over time. Comparing the quantity of healthy items sold YOY shows that there was a 5% increase, so guests are more likely to purchase the healthy items when they are at a discounted price. The client is effectively driving behavior change by making better-for-you options accessible and by making the healthy choice the easy choice.
5% increase in number of healthy items sold from 2018 to 2019
The partnership with the onsite wellness team has enhanced the healthy eating program by providing Registered Nurses and Wellness Professionals to support employee health and offering educational events that cross-promote healthy foodservice and fitness center initiatives. Several Registered Dietitians provide support for wellness initiatives and work closely with the client’s wellness team to ensure the healthy eating program is implemented successfully.
Reference: Association of Worksite Food Purchases and Employees’ Overall Dietary Quality and Health. McCurley, Jessica L. et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 57, Issue 1, 87 – 94.