Google café's next health move: Harder-to-get candy

Operation has embraced simple "nudges" toward healthy behavior.

March 21—Much has changed since Google earned a reputation for fattening its staffers with food on demand. These days, the company is focused on advancing its healthy-eating initiatives. Explains Jennifer Kurkoski, who has a PhD in organizational behavior and runs a division of Google's HR department called People Analytics, "When employees are healthy, they're happy. When they're happy, they're innovative." In pursuit of that healthiness, happiness, and innovation, Google has turned to "nudges": simple, subtle cues that prompt people to make better decisions. Behavioral economists have shown the idea works, but Google has taken it out of the lab and into the lunchroom. This is a sampling of the encouragement you'd get during trips through the company's eateries--and naturally, Google is measuring the results.

1. HARD CANDY
No longer are M&Ms in clear hanging dispensers. If you're in Google's New York office, you now have to reach into opaque bins. The grab takes effort; the obscuring vessel quells enticement. The switch led to a 9% drop in caloric intake from candy in just one week.