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The average employee spends at least one-third of their life at work. Unsurprisingly, then, the workplace is a hugely influential environment – somewhere that can inspire either healthy eating or unhealthy behaviour.
Although most graduate employers would recognise the value of a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle for their employees’ personal health, many fail to realise the tangible benefits that encouraging these behaviours in the workplace can also offer for their business.
Promoting nutrition and wellness can help to reduce office stress levels, increase sustainability, productivity, creativity and motivation, and even result in fewer health-related absences. Take a look at other ways to promote sustainability in your office and build a resilient team.
What’s more, by promoting a healthy environment, employers can help to foster a great public image of their business. With a huge emphasis on wellness over the last few years, being perceived as a company that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of its employees will help to attract graduates – assisting with graduate recruitment and employee retention.
And the best thing? Encouraging health and wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult – nor does it need to mean any big changes to day-to-day office life. Making a few small adjustments can go a long way towards the wellbeing of your employees – and is likely to have a marked impact on the productivity and the long-term success of your business, too.
Most people would agree that eating a balanced diet becomes much more difficult when they are busy.
In the office, convenience is king – and whatever snacks are readily available will be what people tend to reach for.
If you want to avoid mid-afternoon slumps and sluggishness, start by ensuring that all foods are nutritious – whether that’s by stocking vending machines with healthy foods, having a fresh fruit basket delivered to the office each week, or even organising a company-wide biscuit ban.
It’s easy to start promoting healthy eating by making sure that only nutritious foods are available in the office, and removing the convenience of junk food altogether.
Research has shown that exercise can increase productivity by 21% - and yet it’s often something that is shunned in favour of drinking more coffee or working late into the evenings.
But if as little as 20 minutes’ exercise can have such a marked impact on productivity, then it’s something that should really be considered - whether it’s by setting up an exercise club at lunch (in the form of low-cost activities like running, cycling, or frisbee), offering a subsidised gym membership, or organising a team sport like 5-a-side football.
Not only will you be helping to improve the fitness and general mood of your employees, but you’ll actually also be boosting their immune systems (hopefully, resulting in fewer sickness-related absences).
Providing a clean, fully-stocked and well-maintained area for employees to prepare and store their own meals can have a big impact on the kinds of foods they choose to eat. By providing the right environment, you'll be promoting healthy eating without having to do anything.
Rather than buying unhealthy, pre-packaged foods from outside of the office, employees will be inspired to bring their own packed lunch or leftovers from home instead – meals which tend to be a lot more nutritious.
It’s always tempting to eat lunch “al-desko”, but studies have shown that it can be seriously damaging to health.
Not only can eating lunch at your desk stunt productivity and creativity, but sitting at a computer while eating can also cause you to eat more, make poorer food choices, increase your stress levels and strain your eyesight.
Having a separate kitchen or dining area is a great way to encourage your graduate hires to step away from the screen and enjoy a break from work while they refuel, and socialise with their colleagues.
We’re all aware of how important staying hydrated is – so to make it easier for employees to drink enough fluids through the day, make sure that you have an easily accessible water fountain or dispenser – including in meeting rooms.
Studies have shown that maintaining good hydration increases alertness, concentration and performance – so if you want a productive team, make sure that everyone is drinking enough water throughout the day. This is a key part of promoting healthy eating in your office - and encouraging your team to stay hydrated isn't an initiative that will use a lot of time or resources.
Sitting still for the whole day can be detrimental to efficiency and motivation. Worse, it can have serious consequences for people’s health - increasing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Small but frequent movements will help to relieve “brain fog”, spark creativity and prevent ailments like stiff joints, back pain and strained eyes.
So whether it’s pacing while on the phone, taking walking meetings, or having 5-minute stretches at intervals throughout the day, encouraging movement is likely to have a huge impact on the quality of your employees’ work, and their general wellbeing.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – so to make sure your employees start their days off right, encourage them to eat a healthy breakfast.
At Give A Grad A Go, we provide free fresh fruit for staff in the mornings. Whether or not it’s something you are willing to provide, encourage your employees to eat a hearty and nutritious breakfast (and ask them to clean up their desks within an hour!) Promoting healthy eating in the workplace can begin with something as simple as providing your graduate hires with some cheap healthy snacks / breakfast.
You’ll have heard the phrase “everything in moderation” – and it applies to promoting healthy eating in the office.
If it’s a birthday or a work anniversary, celebrating the occasion with a cake can be a great way for your employees to enjoy a rare treat, without becoming a daily occurrence that will have any long-term impact on their health. By promoting healthy eating in the workplace most of the time, you can have the occasional treat to enjoy together!
Food can be something that unites people – so why not incentivise eating healthily? Introducing challenges like a vegetarian week, one day a week with no caffeine, or a healthy recipe competition are all great ways to promote healthy eating in the office.
Likewise, having a local chef or a dietician come in to provide a cooking demonstration or discuss the benefits of a balanced diet with your employees can be a great way to get your team involved with health and wellbeing at work – and is something that will be highly attractive to potential candidates.
Change starts from the top – so as an employer, try to demonstrate the habits that you want to see within your business.
Whether this be by bringing in lunch, taking the time to eat away from your desk for an hour, partaking in exercise at work, or encouraging conversations about wellbeing, showing your employees that you are committed to promoting healthy eating and wellbeing is a great way to encourage a healthy office.
While you can’t influence what your employees do outside of work, it’s easy to make small changes in your office to encourage a healthy and fruitful working environment. Helping your employees to be healthy and active can increase their productivity, improve the general mood in the office, and even assist in graduate recruitment.
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