In Europe, the recent success of applications such as Yuka amply reveal breakdown of consumer trust in the food industry. The fact that consumers want to know where products come from and a more local approach being taken up again sends out a clear signal: they want a say in what goes on their plate.
If employees make similar demands, how should their employers respond?
Organisations increasingly feel that they have a duty to lead by example and educate their employees. They are looking to provide nutritionally balanced, personalised meals that take account of employee values. Food is no longer just an add-on of the job but is now an essential part of corporate culture. Let’s take a look.
Not just a passing fad
Lunchboxes, gluten-free foods, dietary monitoring apps or flexitarian diets: all these trends are shaping the new global eating landscape. More than just epiphenomena, they symbolise a new relationship with food: I eat, therefore I am.
When organisations want to bring their values into line with those of their employees, food has to stop being treated as merely an area of logistics and start being considered as a cornerstone of corporate culture.
But to fully integrate food into your employer strategy, you need to be able to count on help from reliable partners.
With the “zero waste” project developed by Sodexo for a famous Fashion Group. The idea: to develop the most eco-responsible and healthy staff restaurant in the world.
But how? By completely rethinking the restaurant experience for employees, not only by having an eco-responsible front-of-house space, but by making changes behind the scenes too. A whole new supply and logistics network had to be put in place to meet demands never before faced by a staff restaurant.
The outcome: a restaurant the like of which the world has never seen before, run by 75 employees, arranged on 2 floors covering an area of over 4,800 square metres, and serving 1,600+ meals every day prepared using only fresh, local produce.
Beyond clearly adapting to meet changes in society, catering services that reflect employee values and expectations are also, and above all, a responsibility.
A responsibility towards employees
Whilst “giving without expecting anything in return” is an act of sincere and selfless generosity, it is difficult to see how it can introduce into the corporate environment. Loyal, committed employees will expect far more from their employers than just a salary and a properly maintained workspace. And all the more so with the new generations entering the labour market. Often “in search of meaning” in their careers, these generations have fewer qualms about leaving the company they work for if they do not feel comfortable in it and seeking employment elsewhere. A Gallup poll in 2019 shows that 21% of members of this age group had switched jobs in the previous year.
Creating a strong corporate culture gives employers more leverage for giving these new generations something to rally around. (link to our article on building staff loyalty) Focus on a particularly powerful lever for keeping staff loyal and bringing them together: food.
Keeping staff loyal by putting food at the heart of company culture.
70% of under-30s* are willing to make some concessions if it’s about joining a company whose values and culture they share. They want to feel proud of their employers and of what they do. And to recruit and keep high-flying employees, companies are making a commitment.
CSR programmes abound. They bear witness to the volition of companies to be more socially committed and restrict their environmental impact.
And if sustainable development is a subject employees hold dear to their hearts, nutrition is no less so. As revealed in a study by Johnson Controls, 59% of them want their employers to make greater efforts in these two areas.
Along these lines for some 15 years, Sodexo has been running the “Healthy Living” programme in South America. In Brazil, where around 15% of the population are obese, having access to a balanced diet and nutritional advice tailored to individual physical and medical conditions is a truly lucky situation to be in. With “Healthy Living”, Sodexo is helping businesses to become real experts in nutrition and staff well-being. The programme being run in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela is a resounding success: 38% of participants have lost weight, and 97% feel greater trust in their employers.
The benefits of a healthy, varied daily diet need no further proof; they are a source of well-being and motivation for employees. Among key consumer considerations, they are priority in terms of what they expect from their daily workplace experience. The ball is in the employers’ court.
Food is central to our lives; it is up to companies to make it central to their strategies and a tool for creating a positive, responsible employee experience.