We all know proper nutrition has a powerful impact on health. But at work, it also contributes to a happier, more focused workforce. When your employees are eating healthy, they just feel better. They are also more productive, in a better mood, have lower health care costs and longer life spans.
Millennials are fueling a $4.2 trillion global wellness industry that includes everything from boutique fitness experiences and bespoke supplements to organic green juice cleanses and meditation classes. The irony? They're unhealthier than Generation X Opens in a new window with higher prevalence in cardiovascular, endocrine conditions and behavioral health conditions.
Encouraging your employees to eat healthier
Clearly, what your employees eat is their own choice. However, you can encourage them to make healthy choices, and you can provide healthy options at work. The rest is up to them. Here are a few ideas:
Place fresh fruits and vegetables in the breakroom, free of chargeBy placing fresh produce in places where it is readily available — especially if it is free — employees will be more likely to choose them. This also shows employees that you value their health and are investing in their happiness. In fact, in a 2018 Deloitte survey on Global Human Capital Trends, 63 percent External Site of employees cited healthy snacks as something they highly value in the workplace.
Add healthier food options to the vending machinesIt’s no secret that vending machines are often packed with ultra-processed foods. Unhealthy foods cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, and lead to sluggishness and lethargy. Work with your vendor to be sure machines are stocked with healthier options, like nuts, seeds, raisins, trail mix, whole-grain based bars, popcorn, baked chips and pretzels. Replace sugary drinks with sparkling water, tea or fruit juices with no added sugars. You might even consider replacing vending machines altogether with “smart refrigerators.” External Site
Think out of the boxWhen you cater an event or provide boxed lunches for meetings, go beyond the standard sandwich, bag of chips and giant cookie. Ask your vendor to add healthier options or search out new vendors who can provide healthier meals. Ask for fruit or vegetable salads, or ingredients like cucumbers, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, brown rice, avocados, or celery and carrot sticks with hummus.
Encourage themed potluck dayswhere employees bring their favorite healthy recipes. Keep in mind, office potlucks aren’t just for lunch anymore. For example, you can host a smoothie-themed breakfast bar, where employees bring in their favorite healthy, blended concoction. You can host a yogurt bar with fruits and granola or nut toppings. Or, try a chili or soup cookoff, vegetarian or vegan potluck, or midday snack-related roundup of healthy options.
Breakfast: Smoothie bar
Lunch: Healthy chili cookoff
Snack: Perfect parfaits
Beyond providing healthy food options, you can also host educational opportunities for your employees to learn more about the value of nutrition:
- Provide nutritional consultations, seminars or lunch-and-learns
- Offer an on-site (or offsite) cooking class or workshop
- Start a behavior change challenge or an accountability group Opens in a new window
- Send an e-newsletter with healthy packed-lunch and office snack ideas
Eating healthy means better health, which means fewer health problems. Basically, that means healthy employees will have less sick days. In fact, a study by Brigham Young University found that absenteeism is reduced by 27 percent External Site in employees who maintain a good diet and exercise regularly.
A healthy potluck challenge
Potlucks are a great opportunity for employees to showcase their favorite recipes. On the other hand, potlucks are notorious for offering up the unhealthiest of food options: fat-filled dips, condensed-soup-based casseroles and sugary treats.
While employees may groan about the idea of a healthy potluck, it may also challenge them to prepare foods that are not only tasty, but also healthy. And, these ideas may inspire employees to cook healthier at home, too.
Find nutritionally-inspired ideas to spice up your office potluck at BlueSM online, Opens in a new window or try some of these options:
- Salads and side dishes Opens in a new window
- Appetizers Opens in a new window
- Smoothies and drinks Opens in a new window
- Desserts Opens in a new window
Looking for ways to improve nutrition at your workplace?
As an added bonus, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield can report important data about your employees' nutrition, physical activity, sleep and other health and wellness markers, including the cost of absenteeism and presenteeism at your workplace. That’s because we have insights and data on your employees you may not have in-house. Our health and well-being consultants can be your go-to-source for finding the right combination of solutions — because one-size doesn’t fit all.
Interested in learning more about Wellmark’s employer well-being and consulting services? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Send Email.