This past week, WeWork, a global coworking community, announced a new policy banning meat from being served at company events and reimbursed on employee expense reports. Cofounder, Miguel McKelvey stated the reason for this bold move is the company’s way of saving the environment and being more environmentally friendly.

While it’s noble of the coworking community to take a step forward, in a unique way, toward sustainability by banning meat, it will prove to be problematic for those involved, specifically the ones in payroll that have to scour the receipts to determine which items are meat.

Further research into the policy uncovered while chickens are banned, eggs are not. According to Phys.org, eggs produce a gas that contaminates the soil and water while negatively impacting the environment. This poses the question, how is the salad bar or breakfast buffet treated when there are meat containing items, items that have a “meat” gravy or those cooked in a meat based broth? How will WeWork dissect each thing to make sure it’s in accordance with the new policy?

Not only will payroll have a direct impact, but employees and clients will as well. Approximately 97 percent of people are meat eaters, meaning a small percentage identify as vegan and vegetarian. For the majority, this new policy feels disempowering and an attempt to control what the employee can do. It ultimately strips them of their power to make effective decisions.

Not only that, but imagine being out at a client dinner and having to deny your client the option of ordering a delicious steak, unless of course they’re willing to pay for the steak from their own pocket, which is highly unlikely.

From a Human Resources perspective, the best next steps WeWork should consider as they navigate this new policy would be to

  • Send out communications to the clients
  • Create trainings to navigate these tough predicaments with clients when they occur
  • Create a list of “We Work” friendly dining options/hotels to help employees easily navigate and accommodate client meetings and other functions that would require them to expense a meal

It’s interesting to note, while they’ve tackled the meat portion of the environment, they still haven’t touched their telecommuting policy. After digging deeper into their financials, it uncovered their net expenses have exceeded their revenue by over $100 million and they are currently in the process of borrowing over $500 million to move themselves back into the black again.

It makes one wonder, is this really an attempt to be environmentally friendly or is WeWork scrambling for ways to save a quick buck to reduce their overall expenses? There’s no doubt that a steak is more costly than a salad, and attacking entertainment expenses seems like the quickest way to reduce those expenses without having to make major changes to other areas of business.

The main concern is how this move will impact the overall employee experience. One could predict this would deter some candidates from working there while creating a slight increase in turnover. Part of what incentivizes employees ability to travel is the opportunity to enjoy the local food of the places they visit.

While some remain unbothered by this new policy, many are expressing their concerns about what WeWork’s might dictate next in their policy.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. If your employer restricted you from expensing meat while on business trips and serving meat dishes at company events, how would this impact your overall experience with the company?

Come join in on the discussion on my LinkedIn and let’s chat.