In Canada, people spend about 60% of their waking hours at work. Workplaces are required to comply with health and safety regulations and eliminate safety hazards. Meanwhile, employees are expected to make their own dietary choices. This implies that the two are not related. However, your employee’s diet is something that should be taken as seriously as occupational hazards, as poor diet can develop in the workplace due to environment and job function. Of course, poor diet can lead to various health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Obviously, there is some cost involved in transitioning a workplace into a healthy eating environment. However, the return on investment can be substantial. Positive outcomes of healthy eating include reduced anxiety and stress, elevated mood and energy, and reduced risk of disease and illness. These beneficial effects can increase overall productivity and employee morale. For instance, employees are more likely to stay with an employer that values their health and well-being.
Depending on the workplace, day-to-day tasks and pace of work can greatly affect the food choices of employees. For a busy employee, it’s often easiest to grab whatever is available nearby when they are hungry and on-the-go. If the only options surrounding your workplace are fast food joints, poor food choices are likely to result. If the employee’s job involves being out on the road, this may mean frequent trips to the drive-through.
It is important to offer access to healthy snacks, and to encourage your staff to make better dietary decisions while working. Make sure healthy options such as fruit, granola bars, and nuts are available and easy for your staff to grab. This will help improve employee awareness when it comes to the food choices they make on a daily basis.
The above infographic includes a few examples of snacks for different types of working environments. Feel free to print and share this infographic with your staff! These options are much healthier than some alternatives, like candy bars and potato chips. In addition, try to educate your employees about the items they should limit in their diets to improve overall health and productivity at work. These include things like soft drinks, fried food, and foods that are high in sugar and sodium.
Aside from providing healthy snacks and educating your staff about proper nutrition, there are plenty of other ideas for corporate healthy eating initiatives. Here are some additional ideas to encourage healthy eating amongst your employees:
Our Toronto depot loves their potlucks! For a healthy twist on the office potluck, have everyone bring in their favourite healthy dish. You may need to define some criteria, as everyone may have a different idea of what “healthy” means!
Our Kelowna team members bring in fresh fruit and try out different recipes for infused water. Keeping fruit-infused water in the office fridge can encourage employees to choose water for their hydration needs, instead of less healthy alternatives like soda.
If you’re feeling extra creative, you could put together a company cookbook with everyone’s favourite healthy recipes. Again, you may need to define what you mean by “healthy”, but this is a fun way to get some new ideas for your healthy meal plan! It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. Simply ask your employees to contribute their top healthy recipe, combine them into a PDF binder, and send it out!
Send out a regular company-wide communication with healthy eating tips, recipes, and nutritional information. You can use a free email service like MailChimp to design attractive and professional-looking emails, and expand your newsletter to include a variety of health-related information – like fitness ideas and stress management tips.
Encourage employees to use the kitchen at work to make healthier meals, rather than going out for lunch to grab fast food. Consider replacing food offered in vending machines with healthy alternatives. You could even look into having healthy snacks delivered to your office. There are several companies throughout Canada and the U.S. that offer a snack delivery service. Many of them even focus on healthy, wholesome and organic snack options.
Keep in mind that an employer cannot force their employees to make healthy snack choices. Obviously, it is up to the employee to make the decision to eat healthy and pack appropriate foods every day. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t try to encourage healthy eating. By simply offering healthy alternatives and providing some education, you can get employees to start thinking about their diets. If your employees are paying closer attention to the food they put into their body every day, then you’ve successfully taken a big first step towards a healthier workplace.
This blog post is part of our series for Healthy Workplace Month. If you missed the first post, you can find it here. You can also check out our next post, which focuses on supporting mental health at work. For more information about Healthy Workplace Month, please visit healthyworkplacemonth.ca.
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