- A Harvard study of the eating habits of more than 5,500 Massachusetts General Hospital workers revealed that changes to the ways their cafeteria displayed food resulted in a 6.2% reduction in calories per transaction over a two-year period. Researchers also observed a 23% decrease in the calories from the least healthy food options per purchase over the same timeframe.
- With many employees eating where they work, the data suggests even small changes in the "choice architecture" of cafeteria foods can impact employee health and nutrition. "Traffic light" labels — green for healthy, yellow for less-healthy, red for the least healthy choices — were also shown to have a positive impact on employees, researchers said.
- Researchers examined hospital employees' food purchases via the records connected to their employee identification cards both before and after the changes, and those employees were mostly female.
Although many employees report their employer is supportive of their well-being goals, workers participating in a 2018 Robert Half survey said office food was a big obstacle to meeting those goals. Free meals, office snacks and vending machine fare were hindrances, workers said. Other research asserts that workplace foods tend to be less healthy — high in sodium and refined grains — and can enforce unhealthy eating habits for workers.
As more businesses recognize the importance of employee wellness to the bottom line, many are actively looking for partnerships and alliances that can boost staff heath and decrease overall costs. New options, like nearby or onsite clinics and telemedicine, can help workers make smarter health choices. HR departments might endeavor to select health offerings that include nutrition assistance and education, too.