Human Resources: The Healthy Food Police?

Some companies are developing policies regarding healthy food and drink in the workplace as part of their wellness initiatives, something employees view favorably. However, many human resource workers do not feel it should be their responsibility to oversee such policies.

In a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 40 percent of the companies surveyed said they had policies about serving healthy food and drink. Nearly all of the employees at these companies liked having such policies.

The companies that have healthy food and drink policies offer more nutritious food and drink at meetings, events and food sales at the company. More than 60 percent offered healthier food at meetings, about 60 percent at their cafeteria, and about 50 percent in vending machines at the company site.

But human resources employees do not believe it is their responsibility to monitor the food choices of employees. Almost 65 percent of human resource workers surveyed said they should not be involved in regulating the kinds of food and drink that are served in the workplace to promote better eating habits among employees. Only a little more than a third of the human resources employees believed that they should get involved in the regulation of food and drink at work.

According to experts, healthy eating policies can lead to increased productivity and performance among employees, less employee turnover, fewer absences at work, and better worker motivation.

To start a healthy eating policy, it must have the backing of the company’s leadership to make sure that it is put into place at every level of the company. A senior leader should help to implement the policy. Employees need to be consulted to find out what they would like to have in such a policy. Communication with the employees is important to let them know about the policy, what it involves and when it will begin. Review the policy after six months and evaluate how well it has been working, and get employee feedback about the policy. The policy should be reviewed annually to ensure that it is meeting its stated goals.

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