Live Well, Work Well

Spud, Workplace Wellness | BCBusiness
SPUD promises healthy eating—and delivers.

With workplace nutrition programs costing as little as $5,000, B.C. employers are investing in their employees’ well-being 

More than 60 per cent of Canadian adults are overweight or obese, which can lead to chronic illness and lost productivity. For companies already offering wellness-driven amenities such as on-site gyms, bike storage and showers, a nutrition program can be the next step in helping employees stay healthy—and loyal.

Late last year, the Conference Board of Canada surveyed 60 Canadian organizations about nutrition initiatives. Two-thirds of the respondents offer programs of varying degrees, most implemented in the previous five years. Nutrition programs can include offering healthy food options on-site, food-education seminars, one-on-one counselling and company-wide wellness challenges.

With program costs typically ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, there are options for every business.

Budget-friendly options

Employers can take advantage of many existing government and community initiatives. Start by equipping employees with HealthLink BC’s number: 8-1-1. The Canadian Cancer Society’s free WellnessFits program helps B.C. businesses address health issues ranging from nutrition and fitness to sun awareness.

Providing healthy food options in the workplace is simple through Vancouver-based online-grocer SPUD (Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery), which will deliver a box of 60 to 65 pieces of organic fruit for $60. “Some of our customers even have juicing equipment and provide fresh juice to employees at their workplaces,” says SPUD online marketing manager Arndrea Scott.

Medium-budget programs

Amelia Warren, CEO of food manufacturer Epicure Selections, points to her company’s free, monthly lunch-and-learn health presentations as one way it has invested in the well-being of its 180 head-office team members. Epicure also has a company-run garden. “We are located rurally and grow a garden offering affordable produce for employees, who also have access to the company’s corporate dietitian if desired,” adds Warren.

Vancouver-based nutrition company At the Table Nutrition Inc. offers workplace wellness counselling, including one-on-one sessions, in the form of lunchtime seminars for its clients. Colleen McGuire, the organization’s nutritionist, says lunch-and-learn speaker series are impactful, yet affordable employee-wellness initiatives.

All-out investments

Including coverage for dietitian consultations on matters such as diabetes, weight management or heart health in employee benefits packages is one way of supporting workers with sensitive health issues. Employee-assistance programs can also supply guest speakers and nutrition resource materials. Hiring a full- or part-time dietitian to help create a healthy culture or to speak at a company retreat is a valuable investment.

Telus Corp. has offered its Healthy Choices program since 2006, which includes a focus on healthy cafeteria food, one-on-one counselling and nutritional education programs. Janet Crowe, director of the company’s wellness and life-work solutions program, says the initiative includes subsidizing cafeterias so that 80 per cent of the food served aligns with Canada’s Food Guide and is well priced in comparison with the unhealthy options. Telus offers employees educational programs and webinars as well as telephone health-coaching sessions and annual active-living challenges.