4 Crucial Elements of a Profitable Employee Nutrition Program

Healthy employees are good for business. It’s that simple. An investment in corporate wellness pays off in lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, even employee retention. These aren’t minor benefits, either: Research shows a healthy and engaged workforce can reduce absenteeism by 41% and increase productivity by 17%.

To achieve this corporate wellness ROI, however, your business has to do battle with one of the strongest forces in the natural world: Inertia. People make more than 200 food choices every day. And every day, big food companies spend thousands of dollars to influence each meal and snack.

In a world of cheap, plentiful, unhealthy food, no reward program or gym discount can turn the tide alone. That’s why many corporate wellness programs fail to inspire lasting change. There’s a brief rush of enthusiasm at the beginning, but the adoption rate quickly trails off, and employees return to their longstanding, comfortable eating and exercise habits. Inertia wins again.

To overcome inertia–to truly realize the financial benefits of a corporate wellness–takes a special kind of program. We have seen firsthand how hard it is to change ingrained lifestyle habits. But the program we designed is winning: Corporations who use Zipongo have seen fully 75% of participants improve their eating habits:

Here’s how to create a nutrition-focused corporate wellness program that kicks inertia to the curb.

1. Plan Your Program Strategically

Treat your employee wellness program as you would any major internal or external initiative. Approach it with care and planning. Start with your roll-out plan. How will you communicate the benefits of the program to your employees? How will you encourage adoption?

It’s a good idea to start with executive buy-in. When your C-suite is on board and offering their full support, employees will take notice. If you can persuade executives to participate in the program, that’s even better.

On the employee side, start your rollout with volunteers who are enthusiastic about the program. These early adopters can become evangelists for the program throughout the rest of your organization.

Once your program is running at full steam, make it part of your regular internal communications. Highlight easy to make, delicious healthy recipes, show how tempting healthy choices can be in your cafeteria, etc. You can even ask employees who are seeing real results with the program to write a brief testimonial. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way to keeping enthusiasm up.

2. Make Your Program Holistic

Too many corporate wellness programs start with a weight loss contest or a gym discount… and stop there. Maybe there’s a week of healthy choices in the work cafeteria, but then the support for the program fizzles out.

It takes a holistic program to generate the kind of results that will keep your adoption rate high. That means integrating exercise, lifestyle, and nutrition into your program. Of the three, nutrition will be the driving factor. Think of it this way: If you do cardio for 30 minutes every day, you can burn 500 calories. But if you then eat 1200 calorie meals and 500 calorie snacks, your body still has extra calories to store as fat. So it’s important to not only include nutrition, but to make it a focal point.

It’s tricky to develop healthy eating habits in a world designed to promote unhealthy choices. To truly change these habits, we have to reduce friction; that is, to make healthy eating as tasty, fast, and cheap as the other stuff.

3. Think outside the Office

Imagine if your cafeteria became the healthiest eating location in the world. You could make it a marvel of fresh fruit and vegetables, replace the donuts with wheatgrass juice, trade your M&Ms for raisins. Imagine you could replace every soda with kombucha, every cup of coffee with fresh spring water. If you managed to pull off that feat–and your employees went along with it–you would still be affecting only 1/3rd of their eating choices.

Sustainable employer wellness programs should cover employees when they’re not at work, too. It should give employees access to nutrition information, recipes, and menu guides. Whether they’re eating out, shopping for groceries, or looking to cook a quick and easy dinner, your program should be there for them.

4. Make Participation Easy

A successful corporate wellness program needs to be strategic, holistic, and comprehensive. But the single biggest factor for a high adoption rate is it must be easy to use. You’re competing with unhealthy food that’s fast, cheap, and easy to get–your program must make eating healthy just as simple.

With the right platform, healthy eating is as accessible and intuitive as picking up a smartphone. Our digital nutrition platform gives employees the tools and information they need to make healthier choices, right on the device they’re already checking a dozen times a day. From recipes to grocery lists to restaurant guides, everything employees need to succeed is right at their fingertips.

Maximize the ROI of Corporate Wellness

Promoting the health of your workforce pays dividends both tangible and intangible. On the dollars-and-cents side, there’s savings in healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity. On the intangible side, there’s an increase in employee engagement, boost in morale, and developing a corporate culture that attracts and retains top talent. As you can see, a corporate wellness program is more than just a perk; it’s an investment. The better designed and implemented your program is, the more that investment will pay lasting dividends.

Zipongo is a digital nutrition platform that makes it simple to promote healthy eating habits. Learn more about how Zipongo works, or request a demo to see the platform in action.

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