16 February 2016

Employees’ healthy eating improves the health of your business…FACT

It’s Monday morning and James has overslept again. He has to rush to catch his bus to get to work on time and doesn’t have time to have breakfast. Arriving in work, he feels lethargic and decides to go to the snack machine for a bar of chocolate and a packet of crisps.

James’ eating habits are not uncommon. According to research by Breakfast Week[1], one in 10 people do not eat breakfast at all during the week and more than a third (37 per cent) will skip the first meal at some point during the working week. In addition 45 per cent of those who skip breakfast reveal that they feel hungry mid-morning, 30 per cent complain of being tired and lacking in energy and 14 per cent say it leaves them feeling grumpy.

Anna Mason, who is one of The Health Insurance Group’s experts on healthy eating and wellbeing and founder of The Healthy Employee comments, “Skipping meals, particularly when people are on a diet is a classic misconception that you will lose weight and still be able to cope with a stressful, busy day. Food is our fuel and without it our bodies cannot function properly. We are frequently asking our bodies to run on little or inappropriate food and expect to be able to cope with the stresses and strains of a busy working life.

“Skipping breakfast can often result in low blood sugar, which will make us reach for a quick sugary snack for instant gratification and a boost. When we look at the scenario of James, his eating habits have actually resulted in him consuming more calories than he would have had eating a bowl of cereals with semi-skimmed milk (around 181 calories compared to 433 for the 33g packet of crisps and 49g chocolate bar). If this carries on, over time it will result in weight gain.”

According to Public Health England in 2012, an estimated 62% of adults (aged 16 years and over) were overweight or obese in England, 24.7% were obese and 2.4% were severely obese[2].

In 2013, the greatest number of working days lost were due to musculoskeletal problems at 30.6 million days lost[3].  Some of these problems will be exacerbated by the obesity epidemic with extra stresses and strains placed on joints caused by excess body fat.

“At The Healthy Employee we recognise that an individual is only as good as their last meal or snack. Research has also proven time and again that eating breakfast can improve concentration, moods and energy.” Continues Anna Mason.

So how can we promote healthy eating in the workplace to ensure that employers get the most out of their employees and improve productivity, staff loyalty and morale? 

Brett Hill, Managing Director of The Heath Insurance Group comments, “There is now more onus on employers to encourage their staff to stay fit and healthy. This can be done in several ways, from introducing healthy snacks in the work place and removing high sugar snack vending machines - which are tempting during the afternoon lull - through to increasing the amount of water available to prevent dehydration and headaches, which can make people more likely to seek out a sugar fix.

“At The Health Insurance Group we work closely with organisations such as The Healthy Employee and offer our staff healthy eating workshops to encourage them to eat more healthily. These company-funded healthy eating days are seen as really beneficial by our staff and increase morale and motivation as well as productivity.”

The business case - PRODUCTIVITY

The benefits of healthy eating in the workplace

Poor workplace nutrition hits workers' health and productivity, says the International Labour Office[4].

Poor diet on the job is costing countries around the world, with productivity reduced by up to 20% - either due to malnutrition that plagues some one billion people in developing countries, or the excess weight and obesity afflicting an equal number mostly in industrialised economies - says a study by the International Labour Office.

Poor meal programmes and poor nutrition underlie so many workplace issues: morale, safety, productivity, and the long-term health of the workers and nations.

The ground-breaking study, the first to examine workplace eating habits worldwide, says better nutrition in the workplace can raise national productivity rates.

Modern lifestyles are relentlessly stressful.  Is your workforce always tired? Often irritable? Do they find it difficult to concentrate, crave salt or sugar and have problems with their digestion? And just how many coughs and colds have they had this year?

Do you recognise these telltale signs in yourself or your employee?

  • Tired for no reason?
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Need coffee, colas, salty or sweet snacks to keep going?
  • Feeling run down and stressed?
  • Struggling to keep up with life's daily demands?
  • Can't bounce back from stress or illness?
  • Not having fun any more

The results

  • Imagine your organisation full of people bursting with energy, ideas, motivation and enthusiasm. The benefits of implementing a healthy eating programme are immense
  • Morale – by choosing a healthier lifestyle individuals very quickly begin to feel a real improvement in their health and wellbeing. Their morale will improve dramatically and they begin to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of leading a healthier lifestyle, boosting their self-confidence and beginning to realise their potential
  • Healthy eating programmes can improve job satisfaction of current employees, reducing the likelihood of them wanting to leave and also increase the appeal of the organisation to prospective employees and enhance brand perception
  • Never underestimate how important it is for people to feel good at work. It is vital for people to have wellbeing and contentment and for people to feel energised and full of beans, not sluggish, lethargic and tired
  • Education in healthy eating can also reduce absenteeism as poor nutrition is associated with increased risk in conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and oral health
  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Improvement in mood and team playing
  • Reduction in lethargy
  • Improvement in sleep
  • Improvement in engagement and motivation
  • Improvement in blood pressure, body fat, visceral fat, cholesterol

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2927963/Do-regularly-skip-breakfast-twice-likely-snack-extra-250-calories-day-cause-TWO-STONE-weight-gain-year.html


[3] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_353899.pdf http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/musculoskeletal/msd.pdf

[4] http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/media-centre/press-releases/WCMS_005175/lang--en/index.htm