A few months ago I visited a friend over at the Google offices in Chicago. I was treated to a delicious sushi lunch in their dining room and found out that we had to get there fast because it was a popular day for employees and the line would be long. My question to my friend that day, “How can I get on this?” A company offering snacks is one thing. A company that offers fresh-cooked, healthy meals another. That’s why I was surprised when I read an article over at Jezebel.com this weekend. It likened Google‘s nudging their employees towards better food choices to ‘herding.’ Is it? Or is it simply good business for all?
For most people in corporate America, eating healthy takes work. It means pre-planning and bringing lunches and snacks from home, or making difficult and often expensive choices at eateries near the office. Why, if we expect corporations to be part of making our communities better, why can’t they start at home, in their offices, by helping their very own to be healthy? It’s not as if they’ve banned junk food, they’ve merely made it less readily available.
Some of these ‘nudges’ include:
Formerly easily available, candy is now stored in opaque bins. A change which has led to a 9 percent drop in caloric intake from candy in just one week.
Since people will fill up their plates with what they see first, salad gets prime real estate in their dining rooms.
To decrease overindulgence. The size of desserts has been decreased to three bites, forcing the consumer to decide if ’seconds’ is worth it after a much smaller portion.
Does this force people to think differently and therefore act differently? Some early evidence is proving that it does. Does this leave Google employees without choices? Not by a long shot. They can do what most of us do, and head to the local eatery to pay for their less-healthy meal.