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Garden Fresh provides an online supplemental wellness program for employees, soon will offer it to customers

Garden Fresh provides an online supplemental wellness program for employees, soon will offer it to customers

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., the San Diego-based parent of the Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurant concepts, has always offered health benefits to its full-time employees.

But last year the parent company of nearly 100 salad-buffet units added another health-related perk—the free use of online health coaches. The response was so positive—about 30 percent of corporate employees signed up for it—that Garden Fresh held a contest for its customers for a one-year membership in the Healthyroads Coaching Programs for Weight Management, Tobacco Cessation and Healthy Living. Garden Fresh expected to choose 100 winners by mid-February.

Like the employees, the contest winners would be able to take advantage of one-on-one personal coaching sessions with registered nurses, dietitians and certified personal trainers on nutrition, fitness and other aspects of healthy living.

Healthyroads Inc., also based in San Diego, is a subsidiary of American Specialty Health Inc., a specialty benefits organization for complementary health care and wellness programs such as acupuncture, chiropractics, massage and nutrition.

The Healthyroads program was a natural fit for Garden Fresh, said the salad-buffet chain’s chief executive, Michael Mack.

Why add the supplemental health program since your full-time employees already earn health care benefits?

We view our benefits program much like we view anything we do in our restaurant: We try to create as much satisfaction as we can.

We look at the dollars we spend and ask what else could we be doing. How can we shift the dollars to provide the best package of benefits to our employees?

How do you know if a program like this is worth the investment before you decide to offer it to your employees and customers?

We do surveys, benefit surveys, and we talk with people and test things; it’s not unlike the work we do with guests in our restaurants.

Does an extra offering like this impact employee retention?

It’s designed to help with retention. If you want employees to provide a high level of motivation and commitment to the company, you should assist them with some aspects of life. Certainly, prevention and wellness programs fit into that.

TAGS: News Workforce
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