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Healthy Eating Key to Workplace Productivity

March 2 2012 - It has been claimed that one in three office employees skips a proper lunch, and instead snacks on unhealthy options, which can lead to lethargy, irritability and decreased productivity.

The effect in the workplace can have a detrimental impact on the profitability of a business and can also cause problems in teams if some employees feel they are taking on more work than others over the long term.

Even though employers are legally obliged to allow a lunch break, they have no control over whether their staff members eat a good lunch to keep up their energy levels throughout the rest of the day.

However, leading Aberdeen-based employment law, HR and health & safety firm, Empire, says that employers can be more innovative and responsible by encouraging healthy eating habits in the workplace in a bid to promote employee wellbeing with the resulting increase in productivity.

Many offices have temptations such as biscuits, cakes and chocolates, but companies could cut down on the sweet treats and introduce fresh fruit bowls, healthy breakfast bars, and other healthier options instead.

Gill Hutchinson, Health and Safety Manager for Empire, said: "It is important for employees to maintain healthy eating patterns at the office. While employers can't control what their employees eat, they can and should encourage them to opt for healthy snacks during the working day. It's beneficial for both parties as it promotes the employee's good health and produces the best work for the employer."

The following tips to employers can support healthy eating at work:

  • Promote healthy alternatives to sweets: Employers could put nutritious snacks in a central location, such as a canteen or break room, and inform staff members that the treats are available.

  • Provide things that are easy to eat: Remember that many people are working at a computer for most of their day, and fresh fruit that requires peeling or cutting can be difficult to eat. Hand-held snacks like dried fruit or trail mix can be an alternative.

  • Change the meeting line-up: Sweets and pastries are often usual meeting fare, but the high sugar content can leave employees feeling tired later after the sugar buzz has subsided. Instead, swap out the usual goodies with fruit and more vitamin-enriched foods that will fight fatigue, anxiety and stress, and leave the employees feeling good long after the meeting is over.

  • Avoid dehydration: Companies must ensure there is water available, likely with a water dispenser for your office, to keep employees hydrated throughout the day. If spring water is available, it may encourage workers to cut down on caffeine and fizzy drinks, which provide a temporary energy boost, but deplete essential nutrients and end up reducing energy levels in the long run.

In addition to promoting healthy snacks in the office, employers could also consider providing healthy eating information and introducing lunchtime walks and group exercise, either internally or through a third party company.

It's a small investment for an employer to look after the long-term health of his or her workforce, and there is free advice and support available from a number of resources. Eating healthily will not only encourage motivation, energy and self-esteem, it can also reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer, as well as anxiety and stress.

For more guidance on the health and safety of employees, contact Empire on 01224 701383 or visit www.empirehr.com.


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