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Can technology encourage employees to eat better–and improve their health enough to impact corporate health care costs? Agilysys Inc., a leading IT firm, and Compass Group North America, a major foodservice management company, think it can.

Cleveland-based Agilysys and Charlotte, NC-based Compass are capitalizing on on-site dining facilities–key amenities for attracting and retaining tenants in many office properties. They’re partnering on a program to reward employees for the choices they make in corporate cafés and dining rooms.

The loyalty program, Zipthru Rewards, enables employees to earn points for their food and beverage purchases. They can redeem the points they earn for free or discounted meals and other rewards, Compass VP Michael Barner explains.

The new program was recently implemented at a large manufacturing facility in the Midwest in conjunction with its healthy dining initiative. Employees earn double points for making selections from the Compass Balanced Choices menu, which was designed to promote healthy eating habits.

According to industry research, 80% of customers who participate in a loyalty program say membership affects their purchasing decisions. Moreover, loyalty programs tend to increase customer check averages and boost customer satisfaction levels.

Tina Stehle, senior vice president and general manager of Agilysys Hospitality Solutions Group, calls the program “technology that increases participation, engenders loyalty and enhances customer satisfaction… a winning combination for everyone.”

Lisa McEuen, senior vice president, business excellence for Compass Group North America, says the program helps companies encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. But the focus is not fully altruistic, she indicates. “Healthier employees are more content, more productive and require fewer sick days. So, the solution ultimately improves the bottom line.”

Barner is vice president of field system solutions, providing oversight for several technology initiatives. GlobeSt.com: asked Barner for more information about the program, its objective and how he expects it to reach its goals.

GlobeSt.com: How many companies are using the new loyalty cards?

Barner: We’ve just begun to offer the new loyalty solution to our Agilysys-InfoGenesis Point of Sale locations. To date, we’ve had a great deal of interest, so we expect it to have a fair adoption rate. We already have several locations using the new solution and several more scheduled to join in. Unfortunately, confidentiality clauses with our clients restrict the release of specific site information, so I can’t identify the firms. However, I can tell you we have both white collar and blue collar work forces engaged.

GlobeSt.com:: What’s the motivation? To get employees to eat in corporate dining facilities? To eat healthier? To stay on site? To boost morale?

Barner: For this solution, all of the above. Our initial focus was to provide our clients and customers an incentive for healthy menu options to help promote healthy eating. We’re always looking for innovative ways to reward our customers and generate loyalty with our customer base.

GlobeSt.com:: What kinds of perks can employees get, or does it vary from company to company?

Barner: The perks are site specific based on the client’s requirements. At this time, the rewards offered reflect our clients focus on health and wellness, such as discounts items from our Balanced Choices Menus. Based on the flexibility of our loyalty solutions, rewards can be tailored to include perks, discounts or free menu items from the café.

GlobeSt.com: Who requested this offer: the client, compass, employees?

Barner: Compass recognizes the value that a loyalty solution brings its clients and customers and as such has sought to develop a flexible loyalty portfolio that would meet the unique needs of the managed food service market. We plan to continue to expand the solution.

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