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SHRM poll reveals employees want healthy food options at work

Forty percent of employers have policies or practices promoting healthy food at work, and employees overwhelmingly like healthy food options, a new Society for Human Resource Management poll shows.

Almost all surveyed (97 percent) said their employees responded “favorably or “very favorably” to efforts to promote wholesome food and drink options at work and work-related functions.

“The poll found responsive organizations giving their diverse community of employees what they want and need – a wide array of food options,” said Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM. “HR professionals walk a fine line between creating initiatives to help employees and acting like the food police. Ultimately, the proactive approach to creating both formal and informal initiatives that support health and wellness, has been shown to have positive impacts on employees’ lives and organizations’ bottom lines.”

Almost two-thirds of HR professionals do not think that it is the responsibility of human resource professionals to regulate the type of food and beverages provided in the workplace.

More than half of employers promote better eating habits at work regardless of their healthy food policies by offering healthy food and beverage options at company meetings, parties and events, providing healthier food options in office cafeterias and adding wholesome food options to vending machine.  Twenty-seven percent provide point-of-purchase nutritional content on cafeteria menus.

The poll, which measured opinions held by 598 randomly selected HR professionals, was conducted July 15 – 21. Other key findings were:

  • Organizations in the Midwest (49 percent) were more likely than organizations in the West (29 percent) to have an informal or formal policy or practice promoting healthy food and drinks in the workplace.
  • Employers with 500 or more employees were more likely to offer healthy food and beverage options in workplace cafeterias than employers with fewer employees.
  • Multinational operations were more likely to offer healthier vending machine options, provide point-of-purchase nutritional content on cafeteria menus, and offer healthier food and beverage options in the cafeteria than U.S. based-only organizations.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management; www.shrm.org.