Promoting healthy food in the workplace can help you to encourage a healthier and more productive workforce.
Although it is ultimately down to your employees what diet they choose to have, employers are becoming increasingly aware that healthy food habits can be significant in reducing sickness absence, keeping energy levels up during the working day and improving the overall well-being of your staff.
Healthy Eating Week
How can I promote healthy eating in the workplace?
To promote healthy eating to your employees, the first thing you should do is look at the food which is available to them.
For example, if you have a staff canteen you could take steps to offer balanced and healthy meal choices at lunch time, giving employees the option to eat a more nutritious option if they want to.
Each meal could be advertised with the notice that it is a ‘healthy choice’, as well as listing the calorie intake and nutritional benefits of its ingredients.
What if I don’t have a canteen?
If you don’t have a canteen, it is likely that most of your employees will bring lunches from home or buy food from nearby retailers. You can’t control where they choose to get their lunch but you can encourage them to eat different things.
One option would be to offer a selection of free fruit to employees as a nutritious alternative to unhealthy processed snacks, alongside providing access to free drinking water to help them keep hydrated throughout the day.
This way, they may be not as tempted to go for sugary drinks which could negatively affect their health.
Is there anything else I can do to encourage health eating?
Placing promotional posters in communal areas is also a good way encourage employees to consider changing their eating habits for the better.
Promotions could be periodically tailored to show support for well publicised national awareness campaigns, such as the British Nutrition Foundation’s annual Healthy Eating Week.
Although it may not be practical for smaller companies, inviting a nutritionist into the workplace can allow employees to talk directly with a specialist on healthy eating and discuss the positive impact that it can have on their work and private lives.
Is there potential for discrimination?
It is important to strike a balance when promoting healthy eating as you must avoid discriminating against employees who are considered obese.
Whilst obesity is not a protected characteristic under equality law, you may face a discrimination claim if an individual’s obesity constitutes a disability.
You need to exercise caution when making any of these changes to the working environment, focusing specifically on the benefits of healthy eating and avoiding criticism of alternative eating habits.
If you’d like assistance encouraging a healthier workforce, or have any other HR or employment law issue, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.
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