Unfortunately, you may find you'll need to be in or near a major metropolitan area to ensure access to healthier snacking options and "fancier" vending machines, Clark says, adding that it takes a "conscious effort" to find the right vendor who can bring in something healthy that's not also going to be twice the price. Also, healthy snacks will cost more, Clark cautions. Companies must decide whether they want to subsidize the snacks or run the risk of irritating employees who are upset that things are more expensive. "I see a lot of employers frustrated with complexity of it, both the difficulty in locating a responsive stable vendor and a reasonable cost," he says. 3.) Decide what kind of message you want to send. "For an employer who is not really invested in wellness and trying to make that part of company culture, why would you do anything differently?" Clark asks. "It's much easier to stock a traditional snack machine, so unless you are offering a comprehensive wellness program at your office, don't bother." Many companies start out with good intentions for a health program, offering the occasional "lunch and learn" that focuses on weight loss or sending out an email newsletter with health tips, but over time those things often aren't sustained, Clark says.
"You can send out a note once or twice that says, 'Hey we have a bunch of apples in the kitchen, go eat one.' But that's not going to go anywhere, because it's not connected to a sustained and serious effort that is deepened over time." If a company wants to change the behavior of its employees, it must change the situation, Payne says. "Employees who are contemplating a healthy change need to see that their employer has created a culture of health. They need to see that the company provides opportunity and access to physical activity, active workforce guidelines and more." 4. Decide what you're going to charge. "Sometimes you'll see a price distinction between the candy and the healthy items," Clark says. "For example, companies may charge 25 cents for water but $1.50 for soda. They impose that so that you make a healthier choice. They're trying to send the message: This is not the best choice for you, and this doesn't fit with our wellness theme." Even though it may seem rude to charge more for less-healthy items, Clark says companies are just "reinforcing their message via price." When companies charge more for a sugary or fattening snack, it's their way of saying, "This item is only OK to have every once in a while, and maybe the price will encourage you to have it just once in a while." 5.) Decide how you'll deal with complaints. "You may have some people who just aren't happy with the removal of their favorite snack," Clark says. "But honestly, if one snack was what was keeping your employees happy, then you have bigger issues to address." Some employees may feel like they have a "right" to certain kinds of snacks, but Payne stresses that is just an illusion and should be treated as such. "We have no more right to our bad snacks than we have a right to be unaccountable to the consequences of our bad lifestyle choices," Payne says. "Some may say that the health of an employee is a personal and private matter and organizations don't have any say in it -- however, companies who want to be successful absolutely need healthy and productive workers to make that goal a reality."