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Serving employees less productivity on a platter...

...and the meeting went downhill after all of the participants fell into a "cookie coma"...

Oh you've been to that meeting? You know the marathon meeting that employees sit in all day hoping not to succumb to death by slides, slides, and also back-up slides?! Luckily, the meeting has been catered (AKA get employees to stay all day by providing food).

The morning opens up with an array of breakfast pastries, bagels, and breads (sorry no hot food)...this carb coma will last until the morning coffee break and until then, employees will practice the art of sleeping with their eyes open.

Wake-up! It’s time for the coffee break. This time employees will get to test the hypothesis that with enough caffeine, they can in fact stay awake following the cookie/brownie mid-morning feeding.

And the day continues with a large lunch, lots of sitting, an afternoon snack that allows employees to choose the intensity of their energy roller coaster ride, and if they’re lucky they may even get to continue to a late-night heavy dinner that seems to still be there the next morning!

Ok-not all meetings are like this and certainly not all organizations feed their employees this way, but these meeting food scenarios are not far from the truth in many of the instances that I encounter. Even more intriguing to me is that when I show up at a meeting or conference, it is often times to speak about health, wellness, and performance to employees...and I am shocked by the meals and snacks being served.

Organizations invest so much to find the competitive edge in their industry, increase productivity, improve the bottom line, and ensure that the most effective and efficient processes are being used at all times. They bring in consultants to evaluate how they can become more productive and as a result they make changes to how they do business. But then the food comes in and challenges productivity at the most basic cellular level!

We all intuitively know that what and how much we eat affects our ability to be productive. There is also science to support the link between our diets and productivity in the workplace.

However, when I inquire about serving healthy, energy-providing foods for meals and snacks at meetings and conferences, I run into a list of reasons as to why it is hard to do. I won’t get into all of the reasons, but will focus on one in particular and by far my favorite...employees will get upset if we take away the pastries, cookies, and brownies and serve only healthy choices. I see.

Now, I am all about being able to make choices, especially when it comes to something as personal as food. When employees are buying their own food or choosing to bring their food from home, they should have a choice and they need to take responsibility for the choices they make. However, here is the difference and perhaps where I become, let me rephrase, this is where I definitely ruffle feathers!

We are talking about instances when organizations are paying for and providing food for their employees. Food is now a company resource. My feeling is that in this case organizations should feel a responsibility to provide the best resources, to the best of their knowledge that will allow their employees to do their jobs in the best possible way...and that includes food.

When we learn that something in a work environment causes harm, we get rid of it. We ensure employees have the right equipment and supplies to do their jobs. We insist on procedures that are known to be effective. We constantly look for ways to increase productivity. So...

We should also serve the type and quantities of food that will help employees stay alert, focused, positive, energized, healthy, and productive. Meetings can then be transformed into places that not only bring employees together to work on a common goal or vision for the company, but also become events that nourish the body and energize the mind. And imagine at the end of a long meeting, employees leaving that meeting feeling just a tad bit healthier and even more energized than when they arrived...hoping that the next meeting is just around the corner.

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