words Alexa Wang
Poor eating habits are all too easy to fall into during the working day. With healthy food typically more expensive and less accessible in and around the workplaces of the UK, it’s perhaps not surprising that government figures show that only 25 percent of men and 28 percent of women are eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Physical inactivity and poor diet are among the top causes of ill health, increasing levels of absenteeism in the workplace. Expanding employee waistlines are also having an impact on rates of ‘presenteeism’ at work – the idea that employees are at work but not performing at their best. In fact, a wide scale study found that employees who rarely eat fruits, vegetables and other low-fat foods at work were 93 percent more likely to have a higher loss of productivity.
So, what steps can you take to encourage healthy eating at work and ensure the eating habits of your staff do not impact on your bottom line?
Make healthy eating easy
In many workplaces, it’s simply much easier to make an unhealthy choice than a healthy one. Workers often lack the time or inclination to search for healthier options, leaving them with a vending machine full of unhealthy foods to choose from. Making healthy foods available and visible in the workplace does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. Companies like fruitful office will do the hard work for you, delivering a regular basket of fresh fruit to keep your office supplied.
Change the culture
Although it may be written in contracts of employment that employees can take an hour lunch break every day, in many workplaces, there is a pervading culture that lunch breaks should be quick and taken at their desks. Encouraging workers to get up from their desks and have a proper break is not only better for their health, but it can also improve their dietary decisions, recharge their batteries and help them avoid that all too common afternoon slump.
Introduce educational campaigns
Employees certainly don’t want to be told what they can and can’t eat at work but making them aware of healthy eating campaigns such as ‘Five a Day’, ‘Change4Life’ and ‘Healthy Eating Week’ can help to improve the decisions they make. Making sure information is readily available and easily seen is a simple way to spread the word.
Engage the whole workforce
Make sure you involve everyone who works for your business, from part-time and remote workers to contractors, to get your message across. Engaging shift workers can be particularly beneficial as their unsocial working hours already make them more susceptible to increased BMI, obesity, heart disease and other potential health problems.
Encourage physical activity
A poor diet is certainly not the only threat to the health of people at work. Nearly a third of adults are damaging their health due to a lack of physical activity. Promoting walk-to-work and cycle schemes and providing lockers and changing facilities are simple steps you can take to make your workforce more mobile.
What steps do you take to eat more healthily at work? Please share your tips with our readers in the comments below.