Introducing healthier food options
Johanna Altenberger, Head Swiss Re Gastronomy, CRES Zurich, notes that employees have expressed an increasing interest in healthy food options. Johanna explains: “We have introduced more options to help people with their nutrition goals. As people return to the office, we want to ensure they have healthy choices. In our Zurich dining area, there is an area with veggie-only choices, cooked with olive oil. We also feature ten salads every day.“
Johanna notes that her team made the conscious choice to provide only water or low-sugar flavoured drinks. “We know people reach for sugary sodas when they are at home. We want to encourage healthier drink choices at the office.“ In summer, the office pantry areas also provide low-sugar flavoured syrup near the filtered water.
“Our gastronomy has become quite health-conscious now“, says Johanna. “If you are avoiding carbohydrates, you can combine plant-based protein with vegetables or salad. We also feature smaller portions than usual. People can get a refill if they want. But the smaller portion usually proves to be enough.“
Encouraging fitness in Bratislava
Martin Huttner and several fitness-minded colleagues in Swiss Re’s Bratislava office had the idea to start an office-wide cycling challenge in 2016. What started as a small-scale competition quickly grew. Employees who had previously never tried cycling soon wanted to participate after reading about the event on the employee intranet. Today, the competition, called BraVelo, is a four-week challenge with a variety of categories that Swiss Re Bratislava’s employees can enter as a team. A key aspect of the event is each team’s ability to track their own data and compare it to the competition.
Martin explains: “We found a solution to track cyclists – and organise the info by their group, their specific challenge category and for each participant. We use the physical activity tracker Strava to collect data, then share via a report uploaded on our SharePoint site. Employees can cycle on their own or with colleagues. They can also build a data report to share their statistics and track how many kilometres they have cycled over the years.“
Martin personally tracks the kilometres he cycles, time spent cycling and calories burned to get a sense of his own progress. Since 2016, Martin has logged a total distance cycled of 53 300 km.
Meditation in Mexico
When Alan Herrera joined Swiss Re Mexico City in July 2022 as Head of Human Resources, the office had already initiated a number of employee-led groups. One that he took an interest in expanding was a Swiss Re-sponsored network supporting mental health within the workplace.
The network, called Pathways, focuses on employee health in a number of ways. Alan explains: “Pathways originally ran in-person sessions. But the meditation sessions, led by two employees, grew in popularity in the new online format.“
“The meditation sessions really help to alleviate employee stress. Also, a senior leader is one of the session facilitators, so it adds weight to the importance of the experience. The message has spread that it’s ok to focus on your mental health.“
Pathways also brings speakers into sessions to talk about mental health topics. There have even been sessions on aromatherapy. “For me, it was something completely new. Mental health is not something we talk about. But the sessions created a sense of peacefulness. It is a great opportunity to go in, take a breath and forget about daily pressures.“
Swiss Re’s famous Klubhaus restaurant has long been a centrepiece of Swiss Re’s collaborative culture.
Bratislava is Swiss Re’s second largest location with nearly 2 000 regular employees.
With over 300 employees, Mexico is the heart of Swiss Re’s Central American operations.
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