In the UK, about 61.4% of adults are overweight, while 75% of these overweight adults are obese. While a proper diet and fitness activities are considered more of a personal matter, obesity (and the health conditions that come with it) have cost companies and organizations in the UK at least £120,000 annually due to lost productivity. Additionally, obesity increases work-related injuries, susceptibility to illnesses, and not to mention the stigma and socio-psychological effect of obesity that can all lead to lower morale, lower productivity, and other similar issues.
That said, it’s only rational for companies and organizations to step in and try to encourage their employees to start eating healthy, and here are a few tips and ways to help you out in doing so:
Promotional and Educational Campaigns
Sometimes, people just need some simple reminders. You don’t need to start with a big seminar on healthy dieting, effects of obesity, and fitness tips. You can start simply by posting nutrition infographics and charts in the office pantry and lunchroom. These can range from simple reminders to keep hydrated, eat a balanced meal, and so on. You could also include these in your weekly email blasts or through leaflets and brochures in the break rooms/pantries/lunchrooms as well.
Provide Healthy and Wholesome Food Options
For companies and organizations that have their own in-house canteen, start offering healthier food alternatives and perhaps lessen greasier, fattier, and saltier food. Additionally, you can try partnering with local suppliers and businesses that offer healthy meal options for delivery, or in-house catering services.
Stock Your Pantry/Break Room With (Free) Fruits
It may be a bit costly, especially if you’re talking about stocking up fresh apples, bananas, and other fruits for employees to enjoy during their break. However, if you consider how much obesity and other diet-related conditions can cost the company, having free fruits for employees to eat is relatively cheaper. Not to mention, free fruits and an active health-and-diet promotional campaign would let the employees feel that they’re working for a company that actually cares about their health.
Events and Checkups
Although it’s almost always mandatory for companies and organizations to have their workers undergo annual physical examinations, many obese or malnourished employees rarely make a change in their diet and lifestyle. That said, try to at least have a fitness and health event with guests such as local fitness experts, nutritionists, and other professionals to talk about and encourage healthy eating, and also provide one-on-one check-ups so that professionals and your employees can directly interact, and see what changes they can make.
Partner With Local Gyms and Nutritional Clubs, and Health Experts
Related to the previous tip, you may want to consider partnering with your local gyms, health clubs, and experts. See if you can work out an arrangement where they can provide incentives and discounts to employees working under your company/organization — it’s a win-win situation where you help your employees stay healthy and productive, and these local businesses and professionals get free marketing and eager clients.
Hire (or Train) A Nutrition Professional
Lastly, consider hiring (in-house, or retaining on-call) a nutrition professional that employees can quickly and openly share their dietary issues and ask for advice on how to perform certain diets, and what to watch out for. Alternatively, you can have a health-conscious employee, or someone working in the clinic to get a part-time or full-time course in nutritional therapy in order to be a qualified nutritional therapist for the company/organization.
It’s important for a workplace to promote healthy eating in order to ensure that the employees stay healthy, happy, and productive — benefiting not only the worker but also the company itself. However, it’s important to note that the keyword here is “encourage”, never force dietary restrictions or rules to your workforce (except for certain food that has a foul odour). But, with the proper programs, resources, and promotions, you can help even the most stubborn unhealthy eaters to try and make some lifestyle and dietary changes.