healthy business lunchDo you agree that your employees are your largest and most valuable investment? Do you also agree that if your employees are healthy, happy and feel appreciated, that their productivity, presenteeism and loyalty to the company will increase while absenteeism and turnover will decrease? If you believe these facts, your wellness program is a valuable investment. Wellness programs can come in all forms, from grass-roots to intricately organized; but the most important component is that it is designed for your specific work culture and environment. Some organizations prioritize physical activity, while others may concentrate on stress management. But what do all companies have in common? Food.

Full-time, working Americans spend approximately 50% of their waking hours at work. This means that at least one meal and several snacking opportunities are at the mercy of the food surrounding us. Food is ever-present at many worksites, whether it’s a snack machine, cafeteria, catered lunch, birthday cake, or candy jar on a co-worker’s desk. We can all agree that the food temptations are rarely carrot sticks and celery. Almost as ubiquitous as the food, are the employees trading weight loss secrets over the water cooler (or is it the soda machine?). The office can be great opportunity to foster a healthy and supportive food environment. Here are some steps companies should take towards cultivating a nutritious workplace.

Make a Plan

Survey Employees: Measure interest in making healthy nutrition changes
Assess Areas for Opportunity: When and where is food served and purchased? Where are the opportunities for improvement?
Appoint a Committee: A wellness committee can oversee and promote healthy changes.
Healthy Catering Strategies
Celebrate Collectively: If you have a large organization, you may have a birthday cake tempting you regularly. Celebrate once a month, rather than on each employee’s birthday. Consider serving seasonal fruit rather than cake, or at least a healthy alternative with the sweet treat.
Implement a “Healthy Catering Policy”: This policy can provide healthy guidelines and suggestions for catered lunches and parties. List healthy vendors, and menu ideas to help with decision-making.
Create a “Healthy Snack Corner”: Provide free or low cost healthy alternatives to the ominous 2:30 PM snack-attack.

Prioritize Nutrition

Provide Nutrition Education: Consider hosting lunch and learns, post nutrition information for local food establishments or highlight healthy menu items from nearby restaurants.
Create Space: Meal time is not only for nourishment, but can be a great stress management tool. Dedicate a clean and welcoming area for employees to take time to eat peacefully and mindfully away from their desks.
Encourage Fresh Food: Ensure that refrigerator space is available for individuals to bring in fresh food. Keep the refrigerator clean and clear.

Katie Di Lauro is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Tri-City Wellness Center as well as a Certified Corporate Wellness Manager and a Certified Culture Coach. Contact Tri-City Wellness Center today at 760.230.8662 or www.tricitywellness.com to learn more about nutrition and wellness services for your employees.