Our research showed people were struggling with how much to buy, how to use it before it goes bad, and what dishes to use it in when they had leftovers.
Existing Infrastructure: What is an Employee Wellness Program?
Companies are helping employees to live healthier by educating them on staying active, eating healthy and being financially savvy. Wellness programs are organized by employers to help their employees eat better, lose weight and improve their overall health.
Programs can include activities such as weight-loss competitions, educational seminars, tobacco-cessation workshops and health screenings. Wellness programs often include financial incentives for employees, such as lower health-insurance premiums or reimbursement for gym memberships.
Many wellness programs offer educational and motivational components aimed at creating and maintaining individual health. This could extend to the food waste challenge to create a more holistic, end-to-end experience.
Educating employees on how to buy, store and use fresh food would help to reduce waste. The programs could extend their reach to create and maintain healthy food habits. Possible suggestions: Meal plans and shopping lists could help make employees aware of how to manage.
Both companies and employees win financially. Employees are healthier, eating fresh versus packaged food which reduces healthcare costs for companies. It would be great if companies could somehow measure this to provide environmental impact (and maybe tax benefits).
An incentive program (which some wellness programs currently offer) would encourage employee engagement in these programs. Investing in employee education now could help make long-lasting change.
How can we "score" or measure the food waste competitions between employees/teams?
Some wellness programs automatically sync data from fitness trackers like Fitbit. This reduces the employee's burden to report progress. Following this existing model, we would introduce employees to food waste prevention apps that could be synced automatically to their wellness accounts. For example, we would encourage and reward employee use of apps like these just created through the OpenIDEO challenge- Expire, Shelf Life, Go Between, CoBuy.
Success may be measured by employee engagement in the food waste elements of the wellness program. Quantitative results would come in the form of points awarded for reading food waste informational cards or participating in department/team food waste competitions.
Evaluating the Idea
Identify Riskiest Assumption
Our riskiest assumption was that employees who participate in wellness programs are interested in reducing food waste. We hypothesized that if people were given the choice of which wellness program to participate in, they would choose the program that includes food waste initiatives.
Test Riskiest Assumption
To test this hypothesis, we prototyped a lightweight, low fidelity wellness application. We interviewed four people who have participated in a wellness program. Using the prototype, we asked them to "set their interests" for this new wellness program application. We tested two versions (A/B) to see which messaging might be more effective "reducing food waste" or "reducing food costs." Interact with the prototype:Prototype Results
Three out of four people did not elect to "turn on" the food waste component.
- People think they’re doing fine already in regards to food waste.
- There is a lack of knowledge around the larger problem and the impact individuals can have.
- People were not uninterested, but they don't see this as one of their needs right now.
"It’s [food waste reduction initiative in a wellness program] a 'nice to have.' There’s already enough being done." - Participant
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