Nutrition in a fundamental pillar of employee health but is often overlooked. The food that we eat each day is fundamental to our physical health as well as our mental wellbeing. Low energy, poor mood balance and the infamous post-lunch-slump can all be brought under control by good nutrition. The question is; how do employers empower their staff to make the best choices when it comes to nutrition?
The first step is ensuring that staff have an improved knowledge and understanding of why making good nutritional choices benefits them; what good choices actually are along with how to build healthy habits into their lifestyle. Quite often people will already know what they should be eating but lack a real grasp of why (and how to create strong habits) and so they fall short.
Running seminars and workshops on a regular basis is a great way to educate staff on the ways they can improve their nutritional health and boost their work performance. Ideally these should involve both a theoretical and a practical element. Running ‘Lunch and learns’ is perfect for this as staff can find out ways to improve health while also getting a nutritious lunch. Topics don’t need to be in depth or overly scientific. In fact, we created a workshop for a client that covered all three pillars of staff health, with the nutrition component focusing on specific shops and restaurants in the surrounding area at which staff could get a healthy lunch. It may seem rather simplistic but it armed staff with an immediately usable and practical knowledge on where to eat, as well as what food choices were good for them.
Provision of nutritious options
Once you have educated staff on the why, how and what of nutrition it is important to enable them to succeed. How? By ensuring that food provided on-site is actually nutritious. A quick tour around many company canteens and vending machines is enough to make Jamie Oliver cry.
Tailored Fit works in collaboration with a qualified nutritionist to develop menus for the company canteen that offer nutritional value, improved performance and ultimately a healthier and happier workforce. Serving food that is appealing and improves both energy levels and cognitive ability just makes sense. If the menu offers burger and chips washed down with a sugary drink then it should come as little surprise that employees are less productive during the second half of the day!
Vending machines don’t need to be packed with chocolate and crisps either. There is a plethora of healthy snacks available that won’t cause sugar crashes and mood swings. There are even companies who provide whole vending machines dedicated to healthy eating! Of course it is impossible to stop someone eating unhealthy snacks if that is what they really want to do, but not having to frequently walk past a window of illuminated goodies will vastly reduce the temptation.
Moulding the culture
Finally, once you have a team educated on the benefits of nutrition who are surrounded by a workplace of nutritious food options, then your next step must be company culture. One office we recently visited had a desk that was nearly always covered in birthday cakes and treats. Some of the staff had actually nicknamed it “diabetes corner”! Obviously, you should avoid even trying to enforce a rule of no cakes in the office, as we all know that will not work. But just think about it… if you have more than a couple of hundred staff then you could easily have birthday cake in the office three or more times per week (a problem that many large companies have indeed faced).
One solution that several larger companies have implemented to resolve the issue of too much birthday cake is to designate a day on which all birthdays that fall within that week are celebrated. That way staff still get to enjoy some cakes and celebrate birthdays, but aren’t bombarded by a constant barrage of Victoria sponge every day!
Hopefully our short introduction has given you some great starter ideas and inspiration for when you begin to improve staff health at your company. If you want to find out more about how Tailored Fit can develop bespoke workshops, seminars and menus for your staff, get in touch with us here.