While stress in the workplace is often linked with sickness absence, its association with the eating habits of employees is perhaps less known. That’s why a survey from trade body British Summer Fruits (BSF) makes for such interesting reading.
It found that half of UK employees eat more unhealthily when they are stressed at work. This is despite the fact that 52% of the 2,000 employees polled said they worked more productively when they ate healthily. More than half (55%) said they felt in a better mood when they ate healthily.
However, even though the benefits of eating healthily at work appear to be apparent, just under half (48%) of meetings across the country are accompanied by the offer of sugary biscuits. In fact, just 8% of meetings see fresh fruit provided for employees.
According to a third of companies, sugary snacks are provided to boost energy levels or act as a reward for staff, which is why meeting room snacks often comprise fizzy drinks, sugary biscuits and sweets.
As a result, one in 10 employees said they are tempted to over-indulge during meetings, with one-third saying they eat the sugary snacks simply because they are put in front of them.
Meanwhile, six in 10 employees said they believe their employer should provide fresh fruit in the office to encourage healthy eating.
Sadly, three quarters of employees revealed that they did not know who they should speak to in order to get a healthy eating programme implemented in their office.
BSF says employers need to do more when it comes to encouraging a healthy, positive and productive workforce. For example, while some companies have implemented wellbeing programmes that give employees access to table tennis tables, massages and even slides in the case of Google’s Silicon Valley office, BSF wants to see more done to address the lack of nutritional initiatives in the workplace.
Corporate wellness expert Kate Cook, who has worked on wellbeing programmes for large companies such as PwC and Accenture, said companies that invest in the wellbeing of their employees and give them access to great food choices enjoy lower staff turnover as a result.
“Enlightened companies are seeing that introducing fresh fruit into the workplace, such as a punnet of berries for breakfast or for snacking on during meetings, leads to improved concentration, productivity, and a reduction in health problems and work absences,” she said.
“Berries have the added benefit of being high in vitamin C and other important anti-oxidants such as flavonoids. Famously nutrient rich, berries are likely to encourage a healthy immune system, which is a great benefit for working people.”
Initiatives that encourage employees to eat more healthily, which in turn reduce their stress levels, should be a no-brain decision for employers. After all, work-related stress is thought to cost the UK economy nearly £6.5 billion each year, with the cost of ‘sick’ days being £618 per day.
Your staff are your most valuable asset. So CAN you or your company rely on the government to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees? If the answer is no then you should contact PCG immediately.
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