A healthy workforce is an essential component of the culture at Phoenix Contact—so much so that the U.S. division operates a wellness clinic for staff at its Middletown, Pa.-based headquarters.
Given that diet plays such a key role in wellbeing, health care professionals from the functional health and wellbeing center have collaborated with onsite foodservice contractor CulinArt to develop a medically guided seven-day detox program for staffers.
For a $100 fee, employees and their dependents over 18 receive clinician-developed food lists and recipes, high-grade supplements and smoothies that support their detox. Enrollees also receive virtual visits with coaching from the two nurse practitioners and a physician at the clinic.
The onsite Phoenix Café provides the ingredients for the smoothies, along with detox-approved soups and salads that employees can purchase to consume at work or take home. The CulinArt staff develops recipes for the soups and salads using a clinic-provided food list; they are made available to anyone in the café. Staffers can also request a non-detox version of the smoothies.
Soups in the program include versions such as the Green Machine, prepared with green beans, celery, zucchini, spinach, Spanish onion, garlic, parsley, basil, ginger, vegetable stock, lemon juice, green onion and hemp milk. A typical salad might combine Swiss chard, roasted beets, red onion, basil and mint, with a light lemon vinaigrette. The cafe, managed by CulinArt chef Matthew Drescher, also serves detox-approved vegetable sides, such as roasted zucchini, beets, organic Swiss chard, turnips, local organic carrots and broccolini.
The wellness team also capitalizes on the café traffic to offer all employees samples of detox items as a way to stir up participation in the program.
“Wellness is part of the ethos at Phoenix Connect, and we’re really walking the walk and not just talking the talk,” says Mary Ellen Francescani, one of the nurse practitioners at the functional health and wellbeing center. “We do integrated and functional medicine, and changing people’s diets is just one aspect of that.”
“We are spoiled here with the café,” Francescani says, explaining that the café functions as a lab of sorts. When clients are counseled, they are pointed toward healthier dining options available onsite. Being able to interact with café staff, sample dishes that might be unfamiliar and know that everything is prepared fresh daily are all pluses for Phoenix Contact workers, she adds.
Sometimes dishes are labeled as detox options, but not always.
“Sometimes they don’t need to be labeled,” Francescani explains. “A salad might have lots of antioxidant-rich greens, nuts and seeds full of nutrients, and other power foods from our clean eating list, but it happens to be just a really tasty salad that is prepared and presented beautifully.” She has not been surprised to her people share how much they enjoy the detox soups as well.
“Just because it’s labeled detox doesn’t mean it won’t taste good,” she notes.
The culinary team issues a weekly menu that indicates dishes that check the detox, gluten free or vegetarian boxes.
Detox participants receive counseling during the process and after, when they are coached on readjusting to normal eating habits and the reintegration of other foods. Typically about 20 participants are enrolled at any one time, and the regimen has gained in popularity as participants share their stories with their colleagues and in an internal newsletter.
Francescani acknowledges that Phoenix Contact—with a wellness clinic, medical staff and exercise facilities onsite, along with a supportive culinary staff—is in a unique position to offer the detox plan compared to most employers. As she points out, “The detox is medical grade, and we are screening and supervising clients. It’s not just a green smoothie detox.”
Wanda Sipe, the company’s wellness program administrator, explains the thinking behind offering the team healthy dining options and other wellness support. “Our employees are our biggest assets,” she notes. “We aim to provide benefits and programs that address their physical, financial and nutritional needs to help them be successful.”
Sipe adds that stressing wellness and food choices has caused a noticeable mindset shift among team members.
“Instead of saying medicine, they say nutrition. Instead of exercise, they say movement. It’s definitely different.”