As the UK finally appears to be on the point of finding its post-pandemic “new normal”, businesses will have to figure out how to make the most of any office space they keep. Aside from the usual stacks of paperwork, food (and drink) will play a very important role in this.
Why healthy eating matters to employers
You are what you eat. It’s a cliche but it’s true. Employees who eat well tend to be healthier. As a result, they have fewer days off sick. What’s more, they tend to be more productive when they’re in the office. This is partly because they tend to have better energy levels and partly because they’re less distracted by feeling blue.
Understandably, healthier staff tend to be happier staff. This makes them less likely to succumb to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. It also means that they are more likely to spread positive vibes around the office rather than lowering the overall mood.
Promoting healthy eating
It’s clearly very much in an employer’s best interests to encourage their staff to eat healthily. The key word in that sentence, however, is “encourage”. Your employees are adults, you cannot force them to eat anything they do not want to eat. Similarly, you cannot force them to stop eating anything they do want to eat.
You can, however, place limits on what can and can’t be eaten at desks. In theory, you could try banning people from eating anything at their desk. In practice, this is likely to be met with major resistance. It’s also likely to go against the age-old management principle of never creating a rule you can’t easily enforce.
A more reasonable option would be to ban all hot food at desks and to encourage people to take all meal breaks in a break area. Of course, in the real world, that’s only going to happen if people feel that they can take time away from their desks. This means that, as an employer, it’s down to you to make sure they have enough time to do their tasks without using their lunch break.
You can also use your position to promote the importance of healthy eating and give tips on how to do it. Remember, however, that your pitch has to be about the benefits to your employees not the benefits to you. It also has to be phrased in a positive manner. For example, make sure you avoid anything which could possibly be interpreted as “body shaming”.
Making healthy eating easy
The golden rule of influence is to make it easy for people to do whatever it is that you want them to do. At a minimum, stop encouraging unhealthy eating. For example, stop offering unhealthy foods as treats or rewards. Instead, offer healthy alternatives. Ideally, look for options which are presented attractively (think fruit bouquets) so they look more appealing.
Similarly, try to eliminate, or at least limit, the amount of unhealthy food sold on the premises. For example, if the office vending machine is currently packed with crisps, chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks, try switching these for healthier options.
If you don’t have a vending machine, there are some brilliant alternatives that can provide staff with healthy snacks and drinks to keep them going throughout the day.
If you’re going to have a mixture of healthy and unhealthy options, try using the old retail trick of putting the healthy options at eye level. All retailers know that “eye level is buy level”. You might also want to consider offering them at cost price but charging a mark-up on the unhealthy options.
On a similar note, healthy eating also means healthy drinking. Try to encourage your staff to hydrate with healthy options like clean water rather than with caffeine and “energy drinks”.
Jamie-Leigh James is the Marketing Executive at Cema Vending are specialists vending machine suppliers and have been for over 15 years. Cema Vending are the place to go for businesses looking for a range of stylish, modern snack, water and coffee vending machines.