Boosting employee wellbeing with nutrition

Despite us being advised to eat five a day, just 1 in 4 adults in the UK get their recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

 According to the NHS, some of the benefits of eating a well-balanced diet include:

As well as benefiting employees, there are benefits for the company too. According to a survey of over 40,000 working adults in the UK, people with a ‘good’ nutrition score had a 6% higher job satisfaction score and a 15% higher mood score than those who were given a ‘poor’ nutrition score. Their level of stress was half of what those with a bad nutrition score had, and they were also 15% more productive. 

Given the benefits to the workplace of employees having good nutrition, and considering that many employees spend the majority of their weekday at work, it makes sense that businesses take some simple steps to promote healthy eating and help improve the wellbeing of their employees.

Find out how our business health and wellbeing services could support both your business and employees here

How you can help

Assess the situation

Before you start offering healthy food initiatives, it is worth doing some research to understand which specific nutrition issues are at play in your workplace. For example, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has risen from 1.4 million in 1996 to 3.5 million. If a large percentage of your workforce is affected by diabetes, this might be an area you want to concentrate on first. To determine the specific issues at your company, consider employee interviews or an email health survey. You could also review sickness records to see if there are any learnings you can take from them.

Audit food options

Depending on your workplace facilities you might have anything from a staff canteen to regularly catered meetings or simply a couple of vending machines. Whatever the extent of your provisions, carry out a full audit of the food and drink on offer. From here you can highlight some areas you can make some positive changes. For example, perhaps you could introduce and subsidise healthier canteen options, or maybe you could cut down on the breakroom biscuits and offer fresh fruit instead. As breakfast is widely considered the most important meal of the day, you could also consider offering healthy breakfast options. See our article for specific breakfast tips for healthier and more productive employees.

Help to inform employees

Many people simply remain unaware of the huge effect nutrition can have on health. You can help highlight the importance of a healthy diet by running lunch and learns or workshops on it. Ensure these sessions remain accessible by explaining how even small changes can result in a big difference to their health.

The size of your organisation and your wellbeing budget might allow you to tie these sessions in with other themes to attract a wider and more engaged audience. For example, a seminar on the impact diet can have on mental illness or perhaps a workshop on how to lose weight sustainably might be more attractive to certain segments rather than a blanket lecture on a good diet.

Create nutrition challenges

Depending on your workforce, some employees may respond well to challenge based initiatives. Why not run a five-a-day competition or launch regular healthy cooking contests? You could also consider ‘impromptu competitions’ offering spot prizes for those people who have brought in the healthiest lunch.

Utilise external resources

Make sure you keep the conversation around healthy food going throughout the year. One way of doing this is by signposting to relevant resources, such as Public Health England’s ‘Easy Meals’. You could also review and provide some suggested apps that employees could download to help them keep on top of the nutritional values of what they are eating on a daily basis. See our article for four top healthy eating apps to start you off.

Consider also tying activity in with national awareness campaigns e.g. National Diabetes Week or even Men's Health Week which all offer a great range of potential ideas to keep the dialogue around nutrition going in your workplace.

Improving the diet of your employees will not only help with key business goals such as increased productivity, but it will also help your workforce feel valued and healthier. Is employee nutrition a key area of your wellbeing initiative? Let us know how you plan to approach it on LinkedIn or Twitter using #nutrition!

To discover how Benenden could support your business with our health and wellbeing services please call 0800 414 8179 or visit our healthcare for business page.