In general, tech companies have been more aggressive than traditional organizations in adopting strategies that encourage collaboration and foster innovation into a comprehensive package of benefits offered to employees. Emerging tech heavyweight Workiva, based in the Iowa State University Research Park in Ames, has taken employee-friendly perks a step further by establishing a restaurant on-site at its Ames campus.
The offering is the centerpiece of a Nutrition Program that offers food, information and tools to help employees eat better – both in respects to nutrition and quality.
“If you were to ask any employee what they like about working here, I’m confident food would be on the short list,” says Executive Chef Kevin Terrell.
The restaurant is open for continental breakfast in the morning, and for lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every weekday. A rotating menu of about 20 items is updated five to six times per year and includes meals made from scratch, using local suppliers whenever possible.
“We get everything we can from local farmers,” Terrell says. “Not only does it offer the opportunity to serve the freshest food possible, it helps us to support the community we live and work in. We also have a working garden on the campus that is planned and worked by a certified Master Gardener. It is a phenomenal offering. We are able to take produce items from, literally, a few yards away and offer them to staff. It’s awesome.”
The approach is designed to expose employees to great, healthy options and provide an enriching environment that promotes innovation and collaboration among employees.
Meals are provided by a team of nearly 20 that is led by Terrell, who has experience working in France and at one of the largest restaurants in Las Vegas. The dining room features quality finishes and is anchored by a large wooden table with space for about two dozen, made from reclaimed wood. The offering opened in June of 2013.
“Frankly, we hate the stigma of the cafeteria,” Terrell says. “We aren’t a cafeteria and we have intentionally separated ourselves from that kind of thinking. We are a restaurant and we run it like one.
“The goal is a low-risk dining experience,” he continues. “For a set fee, employees can expand their horizons a little bit. If they don’t like something, it’s fine. They can try something else. We just want to introduce some things they may not otherwise consider.”
The team also monitors and stocks a number of stations around the campus that offer a variety of snacks, manages a satellite “quick food” restaurant in the newest addition to the facility, caters events, and is in the process of compiling a database that will allow employees to look up any food offered on site and gather nutrition information.
“It’s a comprehensive nutrition program,” Kevin says. “We are about feeding and educating.”
And Terrell says he can see his team is making a difference.
“We will keep evolving, keep pushing ourselves,” he says. “We want to keep being aggressive in making more and more from scratch and seeing how much more people are willing to try. Our vision is to continue to offer great, healthy, fresh, flavorful food from scratch.”
Workiva (NYSE:WK) created Wdesk, a cloud-based productivity platform for enterprises to collect, link, report and analyze business data with control and accountability. Thousands of organizations, including over 65% of the Fortune 500, use Wdesk for risk, compliance or management reporting. Wdesk proprietary word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications are integrated and built upon a data management engine, offering synchronized data, controlled collaboration, granular permissions and a full audit trail. Wdesk helps mitigate enterprise risk, improve productivity and give users confidence to make decisions with real-time data. Workiva employs more than 1,000 people with offices in 15 cities. The company is headquartered in Ames, Iowa. For more information, visit workiva.com.