Sigríður Jónsdóttir, MD of Ísey Skyr Bar, discusses how franchise brands can get a better bite out of 2023 by implementing wellness strategies and encouraging healthy eating
At the best of times, operating at full capacity in the franchise industry can be difficult to maintain. But with the British Nutrition Foundation survey revealing 62 per cent of Britons have altered their diet to get healthier, there is an increasing awareness of both the physical and mental benefits of making subtle but significant tweaks to an everyday diet. And with the global health kick towards healthy eating growing, its correlation with improved workplace performance is certainly becoming more recognised within the franchise industry.
With this in mind, here are a few ways franchise brands can get a better bite out of 2023 by implementing wellness strategies and encouraging healthy eating to reduce employee turnover.
Healthy mind, healthy business
By now, we are all very well versed on the importance of swapping the occasional sweet treat for something healthier. And while an improved diet goes hand in hand with an improved immune system and overall health, the by-product of healthy eating is seldom addressed. There truly is a holistic development within franchise business owners that encourages healthy eating and improving workplace wellbeing to enhance workplace performance. Holistic states are embodied within us through synchronised mental, physical and emotional conditions, with one of the most vital factors towards achieving a positive holistic condition being health and nutritious foods. But what does this mean for franchising in 2023? And why has it never been so important for franchisors to extend that holistic state to their own franchise operations and business model?
It is important to visualise what a holistic approach to business looks like today. Put simply, it involves employee retention strategies that include departments striving towards one collective, shared goal. Like the fine cogs and gears in a wristwatch, a team that can work autonomously and efficiently ticks consistently, delivering exactly what its user needs. And implementing healthy eating and wellness strategies within the workplace – whether they are the franchisor, franchisee or current employee – can drastically improve the shared attitude and motivation to work.
In today’s consumer-savvy marketplace, it is impossible for a business leader to hide behind a logo, a mission or a reputation, and therefore it is vital to ensure the business can sustain itself with a team that shares a devoted, passionate and driven attitude. But where does healthy eating come into it? Well, there is increasing, unignorable evidence showing that a healthy diet not only improves a physical state but a mental state as well – implementing healthy eating increases levels of dopamine (the ‘happy’ brain chemical) and reduces stress and anxiety. Quite literally, with healthy minds driving a franchise brand, a healthy business will come naturally.
But that is not all. With consumers having less time in a world that continues to give them more options, it is essential that products or services suit this holistic, connected approach. A service must prove fruitful for mind and body, and products must offer multiple outcomes. For example, in the post-pandemic world, QSR brands must appeal to consumers by meeting their three primary demands, which are the speed of service, the taste and the nutritional value of a product.
Franchise businesses that actively encourage and incentivise physical activity, healthy choices and a balanced diet see increased energy and enhanced alertness, as well as increased cognitive and mental performance across teams. Making an effort to encourage healthy eating and making it accessible in the workplace can largely boost employee productivity. In fact, numerous studies have shown that generalised symptoms that affect productivity, such as lack of energy, poor concentration, brain fog, and lack of motivation, can be significantly relieved through diet intervention alone.
But this ‘healthy mind’ approach does not just nurture business performance – it can help team members rediscover a spark to continue proudly representing a franchise brand. Yes, the science is there to prove the holistic ‘chemical’ benefits of healthy eating, but objectively, championing healthy eating and wellbeing is invaluable to the development of a brand. In various ways, we are all consumers. And it is vital that franchises practise what they preach by ensuring their team are afforded as much care as their customers. Whether they work for a brand, buy the products or do both, visibly making an effort to nurture the health and wellness of a team enhances trustworthiness – a characteristic that cannot be ignored in today’s saturated market.
You are what you eat
In other words, we are what we eat. Franchise brands are very much the same by representing and evolving to meet the ever-changing landscape that consumers and businesses operate in. Adopting internal practices that consumers today are actively seeking – one being a higher focus on the health benefits of products – it immediately gives the franchise brand a level of relatability. Relatability can drastically improve marketing efforts for brands, as while franchises seek to appeal to the many and not the few, key demographics and consumer groups can be found to share similar visions, attitudes and beliefs. Remember the concept of ‘holistic’ business development? Franchises that can prove their relatable nature can bring larger demographics, making products easier to market and therefore enhancing and defining the vision of a brand.
For example, the global market for organic foods will be worth $323bn by 2024, with 64 per cent of consumers believing that healthfulness is an important factor in choosing products and services. Franchise brands that can demonstrate their commitment to actively encouraging and incentivising healthy eating and wellbeing practices show their understanding of what consumers want today, thus appealing to a large majority of the consumer landscape.
Increases staff retention
Research shows that increasing access to healthy foods can increase staff retention significantly. In fact, a study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health showed that companies that provided a good corporate wellness programme experienced 6 per cent less voluntary employee turnover. As previously mentioned, the franchise industry is what it eats, and is made up of 710,000 active, intelligent, market-savvy consumers. So, considering 6 per cent, which may appear to be a small number, is in fact a staggering 42,600 jobs that could potentially be saved. How? Simply by franchise brands having well-developed and accessible wellness programmes, as well as providing easy access to healthy foods.
In 2023, that number is set to continue growing. With the franchise industry booming, and with entrepreneurs looking harder than ever to take control of their own lives and success, it is vital that franchisors do everything they can to make their franchise an attractive, sleek and progressive opportunity. And this is a trend that has already begun in the corporate sector, as during and post-pandemic, healthy eating and nutrition programmes in the workplace became important in fostering employee immunity, physical and mental health. Centrally distributed workplace nutrition provides the opportunity to reach many workers and contribute to employees’ essential nutrient requirements, and therefore their wellbeing, motivation and attitude.
Encourages bonding within teams
All this science-backed data is great, but what should be highlighted is the hugely beneficial impact collective personal goals can have on morale and relationships within teams. Franchising represents the best of what the corporate sector has to offer and is built on the foundation of sharing goals and ideas with fellow franchisors, franchisees and employees. By encouraging healthy eating within teams and across networks, there are less formal ‘work-focused’ targets that teams can get behind and rally together to achieve. Whatever position someone occupies in the hierarchy of a franchise structure, it is vital that teams not only have formal work targets but less work-focused and more social goals to focus on as well.
In years gone by, the concept of ‘all work, no play’ has diminished in meaning significantly. A healthy work-life balance, setting informal targets and nurturing social opportunities in franchise brands are vital towards a team’s success. Studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have linked overworking with numerous stress-related health problems, including depression and impaired sleep. Setting the informal goal of achieving holistic physical and mental health within a franchise brand, practising what a franchise preaches and ensuring there are wellness strategies to encourage bonding within a team, are all key components of how franchises can get a better bite out of business in 2023.
Sigríður Jonsdottir is the managing director of Icelandic snack bar concept, Ísey Skyr Bar. Helping to redefine the modern QSR industry, Sigríður has overseen the international growth of Ísey Skyr Bar in Iceland, Finland and the Netherlands and is now leading the business into a new phase of global expansion with the launch of its UK franchise opportunity.