Focussing on healthy eating is an important aspect of health and wellbeing.
Our colleagues spend a significant portion of their time at work with around one-third of their meals taken during office hours.
While employees need to accept personal responsibility, employers can make positive changes within the workplace to assist staff in making healthier choices. These don’t have to be big changes. Small, incremental changes can ultimately make a big difference over time.
Why healthy eating matters
We all know that what we eat can have a huge impact on our energy, concentration and focus, as well as our general health and wellbeing, but many busy employees can lack the time and motivation to give healthy eating a second thought. Especially on top of all the work duties and responsibilities.
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables each day can prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers.
You may be wondering why, as an employer, this has anything to do with you…
Well, you may not realise it, but as an employer, you have the ability to make a significant impact on your employees’ health and lifestyle choices. Working adults spend a third of their waking hours at work which means workplaces are perfect spaces to improve wellbeing.
What are the benefits for the employer and employees?
By focusing on healthy eating within the workplace, you will help cut down on absence. Employees who are in good health are less likely to need time off and are more likely to be productive.
Not to mention that the cost of an unhealthy workforce to the UK taxpayer has been estimated at over £60 billion per year according to Public Health England.
There are a variety of ways you can encourage your workforce to explore more healthy eating in their day to day routines.
How can employers help?
Employers can start by taking steps to ensure that employees have easy access to healthier food and drink options.
Small changes can make all the difference. Things such as:
- Offering fresh fruit and vegetables around the workplace and in canteens and vending machines
- Providing cooking and healthy eating courses
- Starting a conversation around how special events are celebrated – instead of cakes and sweet treats, could healthier alternatives be provided too?
- Encouraging staff to eat lunch away from their desks
- Providing water coolers, healthy drinks machines where colleagues have to get up and walk away from their workstation to access
What to consider when implementing a healthy eating program?
Once you’ve made the decision to implement a healthy eating program within your overall wellbeing strategy, here are a few things to consider.
Firstly, align to the needs, interests and goals of your employees and business. You can do this by surveying them to obtain information that can be used to develop the strategy and awareness campaigns. Utilising internal newsletters to provide ‘how to’ articles, healthy recipes and other useful resources.
Depending on the results of the survey, you may wish to go further by arranging cooking demonstrations or hosting lunchtime workshops or presentations with a nutritionist, where they can discuss how a focus on healthy eating can help prevent chronic illnesses and lower the risk of stroke and stress.
Promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace can inspire engagement and motivation.