Produce: An Exceptional Wellness Return

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Wellness programs often find their way to the bottom of the priority list. Questions about what, when, how much to spend and what levels of participation are projected often instill inertia among managers.

Yet, companies have a huge financial stake in employees’ health and engagement. The cost of chronic diseases to employers is staggering. The insurer Empire Blue Shield estimates that 86% of the nation’s healthcare costs are spent in people with chronic disease. According to The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the direct and indirect costs of chronic diseases accounts for a $2.2 trillion economic annual loss in the U.S., equivalent to 12% of our national GDP. The indirect and sometimes hidden costs of disability and lost productivity for employers are the biggest culprits.

Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are prime contributors to the leading causes of death in the United States. Our business was founded in 2011 to help employers address the diet problem. Five years after starting Field Goods, the idea of employers leveraging produce as a tool to improve employee health still seems both obvious and odd. While pulling a HRA out of the wellness toolbox is standard operating procedure, a better tool is one that actually changes behavior to improve diet.

We think we have built that better tool with our subscription-based weekly delivery of local fruits and vegetables to employees at their workplace.

Using data from The Sage Colleges Field Goods Diet Study, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, we estimate that an employer that offers Field Goods pick-up at their workplace can save $1,865 per year per participating employee. As a note, participation in our basic workplace wellness service, which is no-cost to the employer, is generally 5% to 20% of employees.

The next question is how do you get employees to eat their vegetables, particularly since engagement in any wellness problems today presents a huge challenge? For produce consumption, the biggest barriers are: access; convenience; value; and education. Field Goods tackles all four. Our local produce delivery service provides easy and convenient access to value- priced produce along with tips and recipes. Our BeetCamp program, which is an employer-subsidized program, can super-charge engagement… and the results. We have seen participation to as much as 75% with a 100% subsidy. A little investment (between $50 and $200 per employee over 10 weeks) goes a long way.

Perhaps more importantly, a unique wellness programs like ours delivers qualitative benefits that outweigh the numbers. Companies that infuse wellness into their corporate culture improve employee morale, increase engagement and employee retention and reduced stress among all age groups, besides saving the aforementioned projected health care costs. A healthy and supportive corporate culture is particularly important to the rising population of millennial employees, as is sustainability (which is another big plus of Field Goods’ business model).

Back to how Field Goods fits into the holistic wellness picture. Field Goods is a visible way that employers can help their employees eat healthier. Bags of produce show up every week at the office; participating employees talk about what they received and how they prepared the food (a new water-cooler discussion); employees take the produce home and they, and their families, eat more servings of vegetables and their satisfaction with their diet improves 50%.[1] That is a win:win:win: for employees, their families and employers all gain.

So may we suggest this no- or low-cost new year’s resolution. Resolve to help your employees in a simple way: sign up to become a Field Goods pick-up site; decide if you want to invest your wellness budget into subsidizing some or all of the cost of the bag; and start the year out right for you and your employees. That’s a healthy way to support a healthy work environment and explains why we believe produce offers an exceptional wellness return. [1] The Sage Colleges Field Goods Diet Study (http://www.field-goods.com/diet-study/)

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