A healthy employee is a productive and motivated employee and motivated employees are a key component to an engaged workforce. Whilst it may be hard to quantify ‘healthy’ with cold, hard statistics, the reverse is most certainly true that an unhealthy employee would find it very difficult to feel motivated and productive.
This being the case, it stands to reason that nutrition in the workplace could be viewed as one of the most important factors an organisation could influence to increase the effectiveness of its workforce, and yet for many companies, it’s far down their agenda in terms of priorities.
In our ever fast-paced society there is a trend that food and energy intake is seen almost as a burden – something that takes up valuable time and effort at work when we could be spending that time replying to an email, preparing the last few slides of a presentation or finishing the final graph on the report for today’s important meeting. This attitude towards nutrition can play into the hands of bad nutritional habits as we gravitate towards the “instant fix” snacks and energy drinks, and makes us shy away from the goodness of whole foods.
As with most short-term fixes there is a longer-term price to pay. High sugar, salt, carbohydrate and fat intake all combined can result in obesity, high blood pressure, decreased mental agility, lethargy and even cause us to be more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
To help you keep your staff healthy and nutrition front and centre of mind, we’ve compiled five easy to implement tips to improving everyday nutrition.
Five easy steps to improving employee nutrition
- Free fruit – a lot of offices have initiatives such as ‘Free Fruit Friday’. Take it a step further and try and offer free fruit every day. Just having the fruit in an easily accessible area will encourage staff to grab a banana or apple as they walk past, and dissuade them from visiting the vending machine and plying it with their hard earned cash in return for an unhealthy chocolate bar.
- While we’re on the topic of vending machines…. Take a conscientious view of what vending machines you have available to your staff, or more importantly, what’s inside them. If you stock them, they will come! And they will eat what’s on offer. We’re not advocating doing away with vending machines per se, they can be a massively convenient resource for staff who genuinely haven’t got the time to get out to the shop – but do stock them with healthy snacks and drinks. Ditch the cola, bring in the water. Out with the chocolate bars, in with the bags of nuts. Simple, but effective.
- Put nutrition education on your agenda – we’re all slaves to marketing, and unfortunately this means that a lot of our education around nutrition is provided from companies who actually make the sugary, salt-laden processed food it is best to avoid. By taking responsibility for educating your workforce on what good nutrition is, you’re helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle at and out of work. This can be achieved through something as simple as investing in some good recipe books and leaving them in the staff break out area, or nominating a nutrition champion in the company and getting them to do mini seminars on the benefits of healthy eating, and what healthy eating should look like.
- Healthy food swaps – One way to make healthy changes to your diet is to make simple food swaps – for example, choose wholegrain instead of white bread, choose a breakfast cereal which is high in fibre and isn’t sugar coated, opt for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, or choose a low-fat variety of products such as cheese and mayonnaise. Be aware that some ‘reduced-fat’ products may still have a high fat content, or may be high in salt or sugar, and therefore need to be consumed in moderation. Read the labels.
- Keep the workforce hydrated – the effects of dehydration are many and varied, and none of them particularly positive. Fatigue, decrease in mental focus and increase in heart rate are all common symptoms of mild dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already below your optimal hydration level. The best way promote consistent hydration throughout the day is ensuring you provide easily accessible and good quality water. Hydration stations around the office is ideal, but if not, then just ensuring there are enough clean glasses near the cold water tap can be incentive enough for staff to take a gulp as they pass. Again education can play a part here – everyone loves to grab a coffee in the morning, but coffee is one of the few drinks that can cause more dehydration than hydration – so promote taking a glass of water back to the desk when you get that hot cup of Joe.
If you’d like to have a no obligation discussion about even more ways to improve your employees’ health and wellbeing at work then please contact our team today.