Throughout the pandemic and new normal longer working hours, stress, and ever-changing guidelines have taken a toll on employee wellbeing. In fact, it's estimated that poor health costs U.S. employers $530 billion and 1.4 billion workdays of illness-related lost productivity per year. Whether your team is working from the office or home, helping them access and prioritize a nutritious diet every day will significantly improve employee wellbeing while boosting productivity. So, what steps can leaders take to improve both employee health?
The importance of a health-driven work culture
Company culture sets the tone for the way employees live their daily lives. Meal prep is a time-consuming task that requires both mental and physical energy and often gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list for busy employees. Studies show that limited access to healthy foods makes adults at a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Here’s how lack of access to nutritious foods can affect your employees and ultimately your company:
- Stress: Studies have found that individuals that consume more vegetables decrease their stress levels. Also, foods like fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods have all been associated with stress relief and break down of excess circulating cortisol.
- Sleep: What your workforce eats has a direct impact on how they sleep. Not getting enough sleep or poor-quality sleep affects workplace performance.
- Immunity: When someone is not feeling well, it's important to turn to nutritious foods like chicken soup. Diet along with other key factors, like hand-washing, can impact our immunity and reduce our chance of getting sick.
- Energy and productivity: Poor health and productivity really are all linked together, and they impact each other back and forth. According to a recent ILO study, adequate levels of nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20%.
By better nourishing your employees with easy, instant access to healthy food, you are creating a company culture that embraces holistic wellness while also increasing resilience.
How companies are supporting employee work/life balance
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using a survey of nearly 4,000 U.S. adults found that many Americans increased their consumption of unhealthy snacks, desserts, and sugary drinks during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many company leaders may be focusing on healthcare, increasingly employers are focusing on areas of food access that have a lot of room for growth. Although many employers may have thought offering meditation or encouraging physical activity was a way to address wellbeing and resiliency in the workplace, nutrition is a key part of the puzzle.
As put by Jenna Amos, Head of Nutrition at Freshly, “The food and beverages that we all consume--or don't consume, for that matter--truly have a profound impact on our health. And the connection between food and health has been well documented for many decades, with substantial evidence showing that healthy dietary patterns can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan.”
This means a lot of company leaders are asking themselves, “How do I make sure that my employees have access to healthy meals during working hours?”
Actionable strategies to meet holistic employee wellbeing needs
Now more than ever it’s crucial to address your team’s needs by offering the right employee benefits. With labor shortages due to The Great Resignation and burnout, increasingly organizations are prioritizing reimbursing meals for their workers as well as finding ways to provide healthy meal delivery.
Providing healthy meal delivery to your organization can impact overall employee wellbeing, including stress, sleep, energy patterns and immunity. Here are four actionable options you can take to provide better nutrition for your employees:
- Subsidize meals
- Provide grab-and-go meals from vending machines
- Sponsor shipped healthy meals to remote employees
- Set up a corporate cafeteria that offers healthy food
By understanding the stressors your employees are facing, you can actively take steps towards improving employee wellbeing, which will ultimately boost productivity in the workplace.
If you’d like to hear more tips from thought leaders, check out our recent webinar on Supporting Employees Wellbeing and Resilience through Better Nutrition