Employees who have a healthy approach to nutrition are more satisfied in their job and are less likely to suffer from stress.
Health and wellbeing solutions provider vielife’s study of more than 40,000 working adults in the UK shows that 36% of them have a poor attitude towards nutrition, with only one person in 10 having enough dietary fibre each day and half this number eating the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
- Job satisfaction: people with a "good" nutrition score have a 6% higher job satisfaction score and 15% higher mood score than those who were given a "poor" nutrition score.
- Stress levels: 38% of people with poor nutrition have high stress compared with 19% of people with good nutrition.
- Absenteeism: respondents with poor nutrition scores report 50% more sickness absence than those with good scores.
- Productivity: employees with poor nutrition are 15% less productive than those with better nutrition, equating to a difference of 2.8 hours per week or 16 days of lost time per employee per year.
To encourage employees to take a healthier approach to eating, employers should think about adopting some or all of the following initiatives:
- If you have a staff canteen, arrange a full audit of the food and drinks available. Provide healthier options such as salads, jacket potatoes and fresh fruit salad.
- Do you regularly provide catering in the office for staff or client meetings? Consider carefully what you provide and ensure a bowl of fruit is provided instead of less healthy treats such as cakes and biscuits.
- It is not just what you eat, it is how you eat. Do some of your employees eat at their desks? They need to be encouraged to take proper lunch breaks away from their desks in order to take time to de-stress and enjoy their lunch without rushing. A proper break away from the "to do" list at lunchtime can help employees better manage their stress levels.
- Consider getting rid of any vending machines and provide staff with healthier alternatives, such as bowls of fresh fruit placed around the office.
- Run seminars or workshops on the importance of a healthy diet. Educating your staff on the small changes they can make could make a real difference to their day-to-day performance at work.
- Set your employees healthy eating challenges. Those who are competitive will rise to the challenge and compete against each other to prove their healthy eating credentials.
- Consider using a health and wellbeing programme or risk assessment to understand what specific nutrition issues lie within your workforce.
Whatever measures your organisation chooses to adopt, it is important that managers lead by example and demonstrate their willingness to participate.
Do not underestimate how small changes to healthy eating practices can make a difference to the wellbeing of your employees.