Corporate wellness is a £471-million industry in the UK, and it will only grow as more businesses start to realize how caring for employees’ health betters the entire organization.
With increased productivity and decreased absenteeism topping the list of benefits, a sound employee wellness program can deliver as much as 271% return on investment.
“But can my business afford such a program?”
Maybe. Maybe not.
Not every organization can afford a full wellness program. However, every business owner can take small steps to ensure their workers are in good shape.
Want to help employees reduce stress levels, stay calm under pressure, and become their most productive selves? Leading a short daily meditation session is a fine start.
Want to encourage your team to exercise but don’t have in-house facilities? Offer discounted rates to local gyms and yoga classes.
Or, get a handful of neck-and-back electric massagers. They’re an excellent alternative to massage chairs. Electric massagers come at a fraction of the cost, and the best models provide a deep kneading massage to tired workers.
The list of ideas goes on.
But in this post...
We will take a closer look at a common feature in offices, which may very well be your best partner in keeping employees healthy.
These machines are everywhere, and coming across one is hardly a surprise. You don’t pay vending machines a lot of attention, unless you’re looking for a sugary fix.
As you will see, however, a snack vending machine can do more than just dispense cheese-flavored crisps and chocolate bars. Healthy eating through vending? Yes, please!
You’re not at fault for associating vending machines with unhealthy food choices. The snacks they contain usually pack saturated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and other ingredients that are sure to send health-conscious people running to the other direction.
But if Facebook can customise their machines to dispense power cords and keyboards, we can change the sugar-riddled snacks served in a vending machine to a healthier variety.
Here are some snacks worth having in your office vending machine:
Granola bars: Portable snacks that pack a lot of nutrition. Oats, puffed rice, and nuts are among the most common ingredients in these bars. Be sure to check the amount of sugar. And if available, grab a honey-sweetened variety.
Roasted peanuts: An ounce of dry roasted peanuts can have as much as 9 grams of protein, 13% of an adult’s daily requirement. The body digests protein slower than carbohydrates, making the former a source of longer-lasting energy.
Whole grain crisps: Crisps may not be the healthiest snack around, but if crisps have to be on the menu, make sure they’re made with whole corn, barley, or wheat. These grains support good nutrition, reducing one’s risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and other major illnesses.
Low-calorie popcorn: Movie popcorn, those painted with salt, butter, and artificial flavors, is never healthy. But when you strip the bad ingredients, popcorn is a low-calorie snack oozing with fiber and polyphenols.
Fig rolls: When compared side by side with the average biscuit, fig rolls come out on top. The sweet bread with fig paste has no hydrogenated oils and is low on sugar and saturated fat. Figs are also rich in fiber and can help lower blood pressure. Just make sure you don’t binge eat.
Sunflower kernels: The seeds from the sun-loving flower don’t just have a satisfying crunch. But they’re also rich in vitamins E, B1, B6, and B3 as well as linoleic acid. You can eat them plain or add the kernels to a chicken salad, scrambled eggs, or cereals.
Chocolate bars: Seriously? Yes, seriously! Granted, chocolate bars can contain high amounts of saturated fat and sugar. But if you steer clear of the sugar-laden type, dark chocolate, in particular, is an excellent source of antioxidants. A 100-gram bar with 70% to 85% cacao solids can have as much as 11 grams of fiber, 67% of the RDA for iron, and 58% of the RDA for magnesium.
Sandwiches: Today’s vending machines don’t just store packaged snacks. Many can sell fresh foods, too. A sandwich with a helping of meat and a lot of greens can prove energizing and fulfilling.
The list is by no means exhaustive and a quick search can give you more ideas. So you need not worry about variety when vending healthy, wholesome foods.
On the other hand...
Some snacks may use packaging that implies they’re healthy. But when you look at the nutritional facts, you get a strikingly different story. You see, the only way to see if a food item is truly healthy is to check the food label.
Everyone, from kids to grown-ups, should read food labels. Doing so is one of the simplest yet most impactful things people can do for their health.
By checking the nutritional information of a food product, you see at a glance the serving in grams and the amount of calories you’re getting. The latter is particularly important to employees trying to lose excess pounds.
Moreover, the food label also shows consumers what’s inside their food - from the amount of sugar or sodium, the type of fats, and the nutrient content. The essential information from the label empowers consumers to swap their favorite junk food for a healthier option.
But reading the food label used to be problematic with snack vending machines.
Most vending machines only show the mouth-watering front-facing side of the packaging, while the shocking truth remains unseen on the rear.
Fortunately, newer vending machines have a solution to the problem.
Take the N&W Samba Touch, for example.
The Samba Touch may look similar to other snack vending machines, except for the 7” touchscreen interface where people can key in their selection. However, the same touchscreen display can show the nutritional contents of every snack it stores.
With the Samba Touch, employees looking for a 3PM snack can pick more nutritious bites instead of relying on lots of sugar and saturated fat to get them through the day.
Vending machines owe their longevity to the convenience and variety they afford to customers. These machines have been around for more than century, and they’ll stand among us in streets, theaters, train stations, and offices for a hundred more.
But while the previous decades saw vending machines fulfill a purely transactional role, people are now starting to see how the machines can become major players in building a healthy community.
In the United States, the FDA passed a rule requiring vending machines to provide clear and consistent nutrition information for foods sold.
To help fight obesity, some states are now deliberating the healthy vending act, which demand 75% of the contents of a machine to meet health standards.
If local governments and agencies can see the benefits of machines loaded with nourishing choices, we have all the reason to believe that snack vending machines can make a positive difference in the workplace.
Installing a healthy vending machine may only be a part of a bigger employee wellness campaign, however, making wholesome snacks accessible to your workers is a step in the right direction.
Want to learn more about vending machines and food options your employees will love? Talk to us! Or, check out some of our related articles below.