Proper nutrition is an essential part of leading a healthy and disease-free life. The food choices people make each day have a direct impact on how they act and feel throughout the day. However, proper nutrition is still a misunderstood topic, and most people do not give much thought to the foods they eat.
Especially among working professionals, proper nutrition is often neglected, and most employees rarely get the nutrients they require to function properly at work. Factors like lack of time and high work demands are what prevent such people from eating healthy.
But it is essential to understand that without adequate food, health, productivity, and performance can all take a hit and affect both employers and employees alike.
What is Nutrition? And Why is it Important?
Nutrition can be defined as taking in and utilizing food substances necessary for energy, health, growth, and survival.
All living beings require food to grow and survive. Not getting sufficient nutrients can hinder brain development, body growth, and cause several health problems. Proper nutrition is essential for the repair and renewal of body tissues and cells, protecting the body from infections and diseases.
However, most people view nutrition only as a way of refueling energy and satisfying hunger and nothing more than that.
Also, with the increasing availability of processed foods and fast foods, people worldwide eat unhealthy foods all the time. As a result, diet quality and health are affected significantly.
Thus, it is essential to make good food choices and adopt healthy eating behaviors to ensure proper health and wellbeing.
Why is Maintaining a Healthy Diet Difficult at Work?
Eating healthy is not a simple task if you are a working individual. Especially if you don’t have the know-how, healthy eating can seem like a daunting task when you have to meet work demands and deal with work stress simultaneously.
In a typical workplace, employees continuously work for long periods without worrying about their nutritional needs. Only at lunchtime do they eat what can be called a full meal. Lack of time and increased hunger are two of the main reasons employees opt for unhealthy and fast food choices.
Also, at lunchtime, many opt for unhealthy meal delivery options from fast-food restaurants. Very few people bring home-prepared meals due to a lack of time for preparation. Moreover, their meals might lack essential nutrients as they might be unaware of proper nutritional practices.
Such problems may make it difficult for employees to keep track of their daily nutritional intake and eat healthily.
Top Reasons Employers Should Ensure Proper Employee Nutrition At Work
If you are an employer, your employees’ health and wellbeing should be your priority. Healthy employees equate to increased productivity and more profits. Also, a culture of health in the workplace can attract top candidates and help you retain your best employees.
Many companies introduce corporate wellness programs to improve employee health and
Corporate wellness programs allow employers to take a holistic approach to employee wellbeing and introduce wellness initiatives to help their employees lead healthier lives.
While corporate wellness programs are effective, most companies usually focus on increasing physical activity, with very few focusing on workplace nutrition programs.
As you know, poor nutrition is a health risk factor that can deteriorate your employees’ health. It can cause numerous employee health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, significantly increasing your employee health care costs. Such health problems can affect your employees’ performance levels and the quality of their lives as well.
Thus, you must promote proper nutritional habits and encourage your employees to eat healthily.
Here are some reasons why employers should encourage healthy eating habits among their employees and ensure proper workplace nutrition.
What your employees eat will ultimately determine their overall health and wellbeing. If everyone in your workforce maintains a healthy and balanced diet, poor employee health would not be a concern. By continuing proper nutritional habits, your employees will also be able to fend off diseases and infections much better.
As such, by promoting proper nutrition in your workplace, you could improve your workforce’s health.
It is a well-known fact that improved health equates to higher productivity. As nutrition plays a direct role in an individual’s health, it can be a crucial factor for workplace productivity.
If your employees are healthy and fit, they would be more productive at work. They would also take fewer leaves in general due to health-related reasons and give their best efforts in the workplace.
Poor employee health and employee illness can significantly reduce an organization’s productivity levels. If you do not take care of your employees’ health, they might be more susceptible to diseases and be absent. Increased absenteeism in your workplace can significantly hinder your organization’s success.
A survey found that healthier employees took 27% fewer leaves than unhealthy ones.
Proper workplace nutrition can act as a savior in improving employee health and decrease absenteeism at the workplace.
Promoting and encouraging proper nutritional habits can improve your employees’ health physically and mentally. Eating the right foods can improve brain power and increase focus, concentration, memory, and more. It can help combat workplace stress, as well.
As such, if your employees eat the right foods, they will concentrate and focus better on their work. Increased concentration will also help them perform better at work.
Reduced health care costs
Healthcare expenses are increasing each year, and in companies without any health and wellness programs in place, the numbers are astonishingly high.
In 2019 for U.S employers, the total healthcare cost per employee was just above 13 thousand dollars.
If you want to minimize your employees’ healthcare expenses, encouraging proper nutrition in the workplace can help you. Many prevalent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are usually caused due to poor eating habits. Eating healthy foods can prevent such diseases among your employees and decrease health care costs for your company.
Higher revenue and profits are what every company wants. As mentioned earlier, ensuring proper nutrition among your employees can lead to higher employee productivity. Also, it is a no-brainer that increased productivity will lead to higher revenues and profits. Moreover, decreased absenteeism and health care costs will also lead to better profits.
A survey found that organizations with healthier employees had 30% higher revenue per employee than other organizations.
So, if proper nutrition can indirectly increase your company’s revenue, you should ensure that your employees are eating healthy, especially in the workplace.
Better company culture and work environment
Fostering a healthy and productive workforce by promoting nutrition is a great way to improve company culture. A workforce that is healthy, physically, and mentally can contribute to positive work culture and create a workplace environment devoid of conflicts.
Positive company culture will reduce workplace stress and drive employee engagement. Also, a culture of health in your workplace can solidify your brand.
Enhanced retention and recruitment
You should ensure proper nutrition in your workplace because of better retention capacity and recruitment ability.
Every person wants to work for a company that cares about their wellbeing. If you care about your employees’ nutritional habits and health, they will recognize your concern for them. This way, you will retain your best employees as they will be less likely to leave your company.
You will also attract talented candidates to work for your company by showing that you care about your employees’ health.
Ways to ensure optimal workplace nutrition
Till now, we learned why nutrition is essential and how workplace nutrition can benefit employers and employees alike. We understood why employers should encourage employees to adopt good nutrition practices.
Now, if you are an employer committed to improving employee health in your organization and promoting proper nutrition in the workplace, here are some tips on how you can do so.
Increase Awareness and Educate
The first step you need to take is to educate your employees on the benefits of proper nutrition. You can invite a nutritionist to conduct a seminar on nutrition at your workplace. A nutritionist can provide your employees with valuable lessons on how nutrition can prevent health problems and enhance their quality of life.
You can also conduct a biometric screening at your workplace to make your employees aware of any underlying health conditions. Once your employees are aware of their health status, you can inform them how to combat health issues through proper nutrition.
Emphasize the importance of a healthy breakfast
Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, and you should make your employees aware of that. A healthy and nutritious breakfast can provide your employees with energy to keep going throughout the day. It will also make sure that they can focus on their tasks to the best of their abilities.
Encourage your employees to make time in the morning to prepare a healthy breakfast. You can provide them delicious and nutritious breakfast recipes so that they know what to cook and eat.
Provide healthy snacks at work
Healthy snacking is very beneficial and can help your employees stay healthy, aid weight loss, and increase productivity. Encourage your employees to opt for healthy snack options instead of unhealthy ones if they feel hungry during work hours.
You can also make healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, and vegetables available to your employees. Healthy and nutritious snacks can also serve as great rewards for wellness challenges.
Encourage your employees to eat healthy at lunchtime
Lunchtime is a dedicated time when your employees have a meal. Also, for some employees, it is the only time they ever eat anything during work hours. Therefore, you must ensure that your employees are eating healthy meals for lunch, not unhealthy ones.
For employees who order takeaway during lunch, please encourage them to opt for nutritious meals from healthy food vendors. And for those who bring their lunch to work, ask them to cook healthy balanced meals using fresh ingredients.
You can also provide small rewards to employees who eat healthy lunches to keep them motivated.
Offer discounted consultations with dieticians
You can provide discounted consultations with dieticians to your employees. Doing so will help increase employee awareness of proper nutrition and help your employees better understand their eating habits.
Also, dieticians can help employees who are looking to lose weight and keep them motivated to make healthier food choices.
Hire healthy meal vendors
Many healthy meal vendors can provide nutritious meals in your workplace. Such vendors can make access to healthy foods easy for your employees at a discounted price.
This way, your employees can eat healthy regularly and maintain good nutritional habits without difficulty.
Arrange healthy potluck lunches
One great way of promoting proper nutrition is through a healthy potluck lunch.
Arrange a potluck lunch in your workplace and ask your employees to prepare the freshest and healthiest ingredients. A potluck lunch will enable your employees to feel good about their food choices and build workplace relationships.
Keep employees on track with healthy recipes and valuable tips
To ensure that your employees are eating healthy, share with them healthy tips, meal recipes regularly.
By sending informational tips, they will be updated with the best nutritional practices. You can also gift them free meal coupons at a healthy food outlet. Doing so will motivate them to keep eating healthy.
Even though corporate wellness programs focus mostly on employee fitness, workplace nutrition is also equally important. Employers should take steps to make sure that their employees are maintaining healthy nutrition. Proper workplace nutrition can benefit both employers and their employees as well.
A workforce that maintains good nutritional habits is a healthier and more productive one. A healthy workforce can contribute to an organization’s overall success and increase its revenues. Thus, employers should make sure that their employees are eating healthily.
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