On the menu: Wellness programs

Making a corporate wellness program successful for all.

These days, wellness programs can set companies apart, often playing a dealmaker- or breaker-role when recruiting or retaining talent. The best wellness programs focus on the whole employee, both at work and at home, from exercise to relaxation and breakfast to dinner. Such programs offer education and resources, allowing the company to establish a closer relationship with employees while enhancing employee health, company culture and levels of productivity.

This was the focus of the recent “Return on Wellness” event hosted by foodservice management firm, Guckenheimer, at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, in Deerfield, Ill. “You own your employees for 220 days a year, 40 hours a week,” Dr. Scott Conard observed in his presentation at the event. And because of the amount time people spend at work, employers are well positioned to impact employees’ overall health, Conard says. He also noted that nutrition, exercise and stress are the main known daily behaviors, but due to the day’s time demands, both exercise and stress are often out of one’s control. Nutrition, then, says Conard, is the only sure-fire behavior and is one area that an employer can greatly influence through a wellness program implemented within the company café.

Karen Rogers, vice president of Accountable Care, Accountable Patients Health (ACAP Health), in Dallas, also presenting at the event, explained that a successful wellness program involves senior leadership and a well-defined set of achievable goals, as well as measurement and tracking of program tactics, program flexibility and creativity to appeal to all employees, a long-term, multi-year plan commitment and clear communication. A successful wellness program can help to foster organizational well being and becomes a part of the company culture.

Currently, however, Rogers noted, the responsibility for wellness programs and reporting is fractured in many companies and it isn’t clear where the wellness responsibility lies. But as she described and Guckenheimer examples illustrate—such as the case at SanDisk in Milpitas, Calif.–with C-suite buy-in and understanding of the long-term implications a wellness program can have on employee productivity and company profit, corporate America can be a driver of change and make a successful wellness program the responsibility of the entire company.

“Start small,” Rogers suggested, by implementing education and awareness measures, such as making biometrics testing available on site and suggesting employees take advantage of it while promoting the benefits of doing so, and offer diverse incentive and penalty programs to encourage employees to make changes.

With current corporate spending totaling more than $20,000 a year for one employee who has diabetes with complications, according to Conard, investing in a wellness program can yield a 4-to-1 return on that investment compared with the money required to care for sick employees, making a wellness program as much a benefit for an employer’s bottom line as it is to an employee’s waistline.

The focus of a robust wellness program needs to go beyond the issue of obesity, Conard added. To avoid stigmatizing employees, the wellness conversation should focus on objective numbers, which can be obtained through biometric testing, and “metabolic syndrome.” According to the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, that occur together, increasing one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Conard developed the acronym “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.” to help remember the seven primary physical health markers important to identifying and avoiding metabolic syndrome:

Training and fitness
Roundness or body mass index (BMI)
Oil or fat levels
Unacceptable sugar levels
Blood pressure
Lousy habits in your life
Exploding plaque risk within your arteries

Obtained through biometric testing, the “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.” numbers can help determine where an employee lands on the health spectrum and what steps can be taken through a wellness program to help them improve their health.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to beef up its presence in sports arenas and a variety of other large venues, Sodexo will acquire foodservice vendor Centerplate for $675 million.

Sodexo says the deal, which is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will more than double its global footprint.

Centerplate, which serves as the foodservice operator for a number for stadiums, convention halls and other event spaces, brought in revenues of $998 million for the year ending June 2017, according to Sodexo. Centerplate was purchased five years ago by Olympus Partners, a private-equity company...

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

FSD Resources