Business of Education

Critical Care

Quality of life

The issues of student absenteeism and employing qualified teachers, while not new problems for schools, do leave educational leaders continuously searching for new solutions. Sometimes these solutions can come from business leaders that are not traditionally considered problem solvers in public education. Take, for example, Sodexo, a food and facilities management company that provides a range of services that it says improves the “quality of life” for students, teachers, and staff.

We sat down with Sodexo’s National Director of Wellness Roxanne Moore and Vice President of Operations John White to discuss how they believe a strong business partner can make a positive impact on absenteeism and teacher retention.

As a Quality of Life Services company, how does that translate into the work you do in schools?

Moore: Sodexo recognized that student well-being is central to the performance and growth of students, teachers, school, and community. Sodexo supports the overall experience of the educational journey by creating clean, safe environments.

Can you give me an example of how you do this?

White: Our processes focus on creating a healthy learning environment by improving factors such as indoor air quality. Asthma is a chronic disease accounting for 10 million missed school days. It’s why we collaborated with the EPA to train our facilities directors at all districts we serve to become Masters of Indoor Air Quality. This expertise increases our ability to reduce absenteeism.

Aside from impacting indoor air quality, how can companies help clients tackle absenteeism?

Moore: Illness is No. 1 cause of absenteeism. With the flu prevalent right now, we help our schools take proactive steps to disinfect buildings. Also, students might be late or absent because they don’t want to engage. We want them to come to school, ready to learn.

How can Sodexo help minimize the stress from “sick buildings”?

White: We know that health or comfort-related problems in the school buildings can reduce work efficiency and increase absenteeism. Through facility asset management, we can identify repairs and tailor plans based on needs, price, and priority.

Moore: When we look at facilities and quality of life, we know that lighting impacts performance. We’ve worked with STEM organizations and asked students how they would design a future-ready classroom. We know that the entire school environment impacts student achievement.

School safety and bullying continue to be concerns for schools. How can external business help?

Moore: It starts with employee training. We create a positive place when students and teachers enter the cafeteria. We have programs that provide a sense of belonging. Students can participate in our Future Chefs culinary competitions, going to a national level. In our Healthy High School program, high schools compete against one another based on healthy choices students make. We have back-pack programs for students who need weekend food assistance. Our goal is to be a leader in supporting student engagement and improving the Quality of Life for the entire school community. By focusing on Quality of Life Services, we enhance the overall experience of a student’s educational journey, which helps to ensure their success.

Go to top