Nutrition & Health In The Workplace
74% of employees are in full time work, spending approximately 37 hours in the workplace each week. Therefore, health and wellbeing in the workplace requires adequate attention and resources.
Lifestyle behaviours and obesity can be blamed for up to 10% of all sick leave. 25% of the UK working age population has at least one preventable condition e.g. diabetes or heart disease, which acts as a barrier to productive employment. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimated that for a company of 1000 employees, lost productivity due to obesity alone will cost £126,000/year.
Obesity, musculoskeletal conditions and depression are the top three causes for sick leave. Healthy nutrition choices can improve all of these.
Research whether there are barriers that make eating a healthy diet challenging for employees. This includes working pattern, hours worked and lone working. All of which can increase snacking, poor food choices and disrupt eating patterns.
- Are breaks available regularly and with a pattern?
- Is the environment high-pressured or relaxed?
- Are healthy food choices available in the workplace?
- Do employees spend the majority of their day being sedentary?
The above factors will contribute to unhealthy food consumption and can be reassessed to ensure workplace eating habits can be improved.
Workplace eating habits:
- The top 3 breakfast choices outside of the home are a hot sandwich, cooked breakfast or pastry. Having breakfast at home could help to prevent unhealthy choices. Alternatively, make healthy breakfast choices available in the workplace. Examples include Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit or porridge. Emphasise healthy aspects of a cooked breakfast, including tomatoes, mushrooms, and high quality sausages.
- According to a survey, 40% of employees bring their own lunch in from home the majority of the time. 33% of staff state that they check the nutritional value of food when bought outside the home. This suggests that there is a high interest and reliance on nutritional value. Therefore employers should utilise this to instigate increased nutritional awareness within the canteen.
- Food choices brought from home are found to be healthier than those purchased in the workplace. Therefore, provide clean and hygienic food preparation areas to encourage employees to bring food from home.
- According to research, 97% of people snack between meals. Employers could provide healthy snacks throughout the workplace. Studies have shown that just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables per day improves mental health and wellbeing.
- Investigate vending machine companies who support healthier food provision.