Most employees spend at least 60 percent of their waking hours on the job, so nutrition counts at the workplace more than anywhere else. While eating choices largely depend on individual preferences, employers can wield their influence to encourage workers to make healthy food decisions.
Workers who regularly consume wholesome foods tend to have more energy and focus. They are generally more productive and miss fewer days due to health issues. In many ways, any investment in the health of each employee is an investment in the health of the organization. Promoting nutrition in the workplace can be quite simple and enjoyable for all, and everyone benefits.
1. Lead by Example
Company leadership sets the tone for corporate culture not only with overarching ideals but everyday behaviours. The most elaborate workplace nutrition programs will have little impact if workers do not see their leaders engaged. Encourage managers and team leaders to adopt healthy eating habits such as:
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Eating healthy foods for lunch and breaks
- Eating away from the desk.
2. Teach Nutritional Skills
Although people realize that nutrition is important, many do not possess a working knowledge and confidence of optimal food habits. The plethora of conflicting media messages only adds to the prevalent confusion. Set up workshops that discuss nutritional concepts and offer easily implementable ideas. Provide as many unprocessed, whole foods at meetings and potlucks.
3. Set Up for Success
Check the workplace for any barriers to healthy eating choices. Ensure that employees have access to refrigerators, microwaves, toasters and blenders. Stock vending machines with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain options.
4. Campaign for Wellness
Generate and maintain enthusiasm for nutrition by keeping information and motivation in sight. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends these and other ideas to promote wellness in the workplace:
- Set a weekly or monthly health-related theme such as heart health or gut health
- Allow workers to share recipes through the company’s social media, Intranet or posters
- Host a luncheon featuring healthy food choices
- Use bulletin boards to post nutritional resources; provide pamphlets in break areas
- Publish articles or tips in internal correspondence.