Periodically, we ask three HR pros how they’d handle a difficult situation at work. Today’s issue: One worker on a wellness committee isn’t pleased with a company’s decision to give workers pizza and donuts during meetings and team gatherings.
“I know this might sound crazy, but I have to object to the food we’re serving at our company events,” said Anthony Brown.
HR manager William Beringer slowly slid his bag of cheese puffs behind his computer monitor. “How do you mean?”
‘Make up your mind’
“I think we’re sending two conflicting messages to people about healthy eating,” said Anthony.
He held up a sign-up sheet for the company’s new wellness program. “You know as well as anyone that we just launched this new wellness initiative, and I volunteered to help out to drum up employee participation.
“I think it’s a great idea – but it also flies in the face of the fact that every time we celebrate something or have a company-wide meeting, we order a dozen pizzas.
“And just last week, after the sales department had a great month, what did we get?” Anthony asked. “Donuts!”
“Anthony, I appreciate your concern,” said William cautiously. “I feel like you’re forgetting some crucial parts of serving food like that: It brings people together, which can build camaraderie and boost morale.”
“Look, you could say I’m a little sensitive because I’ve always had a weight issue,” said Anthony. “But this is a real problem. On one hand, we’re encouraging healthy living. On the other, we’re endorsing eating unhealthy food. Which is it going to be?”
If you were William, what would you say or do next?
What your peers had to say
A director of HR from Oklahoma
What she would do: Moving forward, I’d instruct whoever plans company events to offer healthy alternatives along with traditional items like donuts.
Reason: Anthony raises a valid point.
Giving employees choices isn’t only good for staffers’ health, but it also shows that we’re serious about supporting our wellness initiatives.
A senior VP of HR from Maryland
What he would do: First, I’d tell Anthony that he’s right about the benefits of wellness and that I understand why he’s upset.
I’d also make sure he realized how much we appreciated him coming forward and volunteering to help out.
I’d then propose creating a task force that would be headed up by Anthony and HR to look into this in greater depth to see what we could do.
Reason: It’s nothing new that wellness is extremely important: It can improve overall productivity as well as save both the company and employees on the cost of health care.
Therefore, there’s no reason not to meet Anthony halfway, though it’s important to do it in a way that doesn’t come across as demanding to those who don’t wish to participate.
An HR manager from Pennsylvania
What Pat would do: I’d tell Anthony that I agreed with him and that we need to be more mindful of the food we serve at company events.
Reason: We had this same exact issue when we started our wellness program.
Once we started providing healthier food choices – fruit, granola, etc. – we heard a lot of good things from people.