Does your office have a junk food culture? Do your staff reach for chocolate bars and fizzy drinks as the 3pm slump hits? Or are expensive and high sugar coffees the beverage of choice? The International Labour Organisation produced a report back in 2005 that attributed a 20% loss in productivity to bad nutrition either through malnutrition in developing countries or due to obesity related and poor diet choices in developed ones.
Luckily employers in the UK are unlikely to face the problems posed by malnutrition but bad eating habits are endemic in many offices. You may not think that your employees diet is part of your remit but when the impact on productivity is so significant it may be time to sit up and take notice. That’s not to mention the potential impact on sickness absence and your desire as a responsible employer to encourage the general wellbeing of your staff. So just how do you take those first steps to promoting great nutrition in your office?
Ditch The Junk
Are you unknowingly driving unhealthy eating habits? If you have a vending machine full of junk food that is the centre of office life, then the answer is probably yes. Or perhaps you reward and motivate your staff with unhealthy treats, from bacon sandwiches on a Friday morning to cupcakes as a pat on the back for closing that big sale. Removing the temptation of high fat and high sugar foods gives your employees a fighting chance of choosing better and healthier alternatives. This may cause initial grumbles but by normalising and encouraging poor nutrition you will remain part of the problem.
Offer Healthy Alternatives
Just because you stop providing the poor food that drives bad nutrition doesn’t mean your employees should go hungry. Fill that vending machine with healthy snacks such as nutritious energy bars and fresh fruit juices. Ensure the office fruit bowl is well stocked with interesting and seasonal fruits, rather than a couple of sad old apples and offer a range of fruit teas and decaf coffee options to keep staff hydrated. By making great, nutritious food readily available you will see its popularity soar as ease of access at a low cost encourages staff to give it a try.
Encourage a Culture of Great Nutrition
As an employer you have probably heard the phrase ‘be the change’ and there is a lot of truth in this vision of leading by example. If you are seen guzzling down fast food for lunch or popping out every morning for a calorific coffee, you are essentially endorsing poor food choices. By displaying a healthy lifestyle not only will you boost your own productivity but you encourage your employees to follow suit. Lend you support to activities that promote healthy eating, rather than the regular office bake off try a cook off where healthy dishes compete to show that great food can be both tasty and fun!
So support a healthy office environment and see how great nutrition can improve your waist line and your balance sheet!
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