Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self Control and the HR Candy Jar

I recently read Switch and it has me thinking about self-control as an exhaustible resource. Today, I read The Battle of the Office Candy Jar in the Wall Street Journal. The gist of the article is that sweets may boost office morale, but sabotage people's attempts to diet or eat healthy. It's not like this thought hasn't crossed my mind before, but thinking about self control as an exhaustible resource sheds a whole new light on this issue. 

We have three candy jars in human resources -- one for dark chocolate, one for milk chocolate, and one for the sugary stuff. We have them because we want people to feel welcome in our space and we want people to have reason to stop by and talk with us. I have always figured it was easy enough for people to resist, but now I'm wondering if it might be a lot harder to resist than I thought for people who are trying to make a healthy change.  In Switch they say, "Change is hard because people wear themselves out." 

Honestly, I'd love to swap the candy for fresh fruit and nuts. We could have 50 servings of fruit delivered from the Fruit Guys for $64 a week, but that's a lot more than what we're spending on candy and it won't last long with 250 people. What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Offer both

fran melmed said...

it's hard to shake our equation of food with hospitality and nurturing. or to strip away negative associations. i loved a former dentist who gave us CDs and headphones while we sat in his chair and coffee cake after a cleaning. he knew how much people hated the dentist, and he was bent on changing our attitudes.

still, wouldn't flowers, welcoming faces and intelligent advice also make people "feel welcome...and have a reason to stop by?"


Anonymous said...

As a staff member, I actually use the candy jar outside of your office as my form of self control. When I get a sugar craving, I stop by and get a small piece of candy instead of going down to the vending machine and getting something with way more calories.

Krista Ogburn Francis said...

We used to keep chocolate in our HR office but we no longer keep it out for a couple reasons. One was that people seemed to get hooked on it and it got very expensive. Another was that my HR Coordinator decided to give up sugar for 30 days, pre-Lent, and I joined her out of solidarity. We resisted the remaining chocolate but didn't go out and buy more. Also, and this is related to the first, while chocolate was welcoming, it just wasn't healthy. We're trying other things, like hard candy (which people tend not to go crazy with), sugar-free gum and fruit snacks. And I might try dark chocolate, too.