10 Effective Strategies to Promote Healthy Nutrition in the Workplace and Become an Employer of Choice April 16th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

The better the nutrition in the workplace, the more productive employees are likely to be.

The list of economic benefits of offering a workplace health program targeting healthy diet is lengthy and includes: better morale, fewer sick days, higher job satisfaction and energy level, improved corporate image and staff retention, and less work related injuries.

Nutrition in The Workplace

In 2008, the World Health Organisation and the World Economic Forum highlighted the workplace as an important setting for health promotion action and have produced a report on preventing non-communicable diseases in the workplace through diet and physical activity.

The report concluded that workplace health promotion programs targeting diet and physical activity are effective in promoting lifestyle behaviours such as improving nutritional choices.

So, as an employer, you are in an ideal position to promote healthy eating habits to your staff and the community and help reduce chronic diseases.

Poor nutrition is a hidden cost for most organisations. A study conducted by the United Nations concluded that poor diet in the workplace cost developed countries up to 20 per cent in lost productivity.

Even though it is generally considered the individual’s responsibility to look after themselves in regards to health and eating habits, the number of organisations who’ve started “taking control” of their staff eating habits has increased in the last few years.

Here are 10 effective strategies to promote healthy eating in your organisation:

1. Provide access and improve availability of healthy food and drink choices

Ensure the kitchen has a selection of decaf and herbal teas as well as filtered water. The recommended guideline is to consume fewer than 600mg of caffeine a day (less for pregnant women) which represent about 4 cups of coffee or 5 cups of tea. Always keep shift workers in mind as they need extra healthy eating and drinking options for their time spent in the office overnight.

Stock the vending machines with healthy options including canned and dried fruits, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, baked pretzels, low fat yoghurt, etc.

2. Offer healthy cooking demonstrations
If there is a particularly talented chef in your organisation, organise a healthy cooking demonstration or chef ‘masterclass’. Not only will it help engage your staff in healthy cooking but it will also enhance team bonding.

3. Encourage your staff to take their lunch breaks
By providing a dedicated and inviting eating area, you encourage your staff to eat away from their desk.

4. Start up a salad or soup club
Encourage your employees to take turn in bringing lunches, such as salads or soups, to share with their team. They can then share their recipes and turn the contributions into a workplace recipe book that can be published on the intranet.

5. Review your canteen menu
If you have a canteen, ask an accredited dietician to review your menu and display nutrition content per serving. It will encourage your staff to choose their meals according to the calorie content.

6. Collaborate with cafes and delis located around the office
Build partnerships with local cafes and delis around the office that offer healthy lunches and snack options with 10-20% discount for your employees.

7. Offer seminars on healthy eating habits
Seek assistance from a corporate health provider specialised in nutrition in the workplace to run healthy eating seminars.

These 30-45min seminars should cover various topics relevant for time-deprived employees such as: how to read and understand food labelling, diet and disease, how to reduce daily salt intake, nutrition for shift workers, how to choose healthy take away and frozen meals, how to prepare a homemade lunch in five minutes, etc…

8. Create a healthy eating notice board
Encourage your employees to share information, menus, phone numbers, etc. of healthy eating options close to the office. Keep it up-to-date and make sure the information provided is current and accurate.

9. Sign up with a fruit delivery service company
Organise for fruit baskets to be delivered to your staff on a weekly basis. Not only will it encourage your employees to reach their two serves of fruit per day, but it will also delight, inspire and show them that you value their health and wellbeing.

10. Develop a healthy catering/nutrition policy in collaboration with your staff
Offer healthy food options at meetings and swap the usual biscuit/lollies options for a bowl of nuts, yoghurt, dried fruits, whole grain crackers, low fat muesli bars, etc…

For more information on nutrition in the workplace, and workplace health promotion contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post204” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives

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