Benefits Bridge | Erin Ollila | Setting the Table for a Healthy Workplace Community
Workplace wellness is an important consideration for all businesses. Perhaps your company already offers nutrition and workout classes, but you want to foster a sense of workplace community around what employees eat while at work.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that “foods eaten away from home often have more calories and are of lower nutritional quality than foods prepared at home.” That isn’t something you want for your business.
You want employees to have access to healthy foods while at work. Not simply because you want them to work without being distracted by health concerns, but because you care deeply about work-life balance and you want to be a partner in staff members’ healthy choices.
Food not only nourishes, it also brings people together. So, here’s how to create a workspace that encourages health and community.
Create a Physical Location for Your Employees to Gather
You can’t preach health from a megaphone without having a gathering place. If you have a break room in your workplace, you have a built-in space that you can use to bring your team together. Consider renaming it the “wellness room.” Plaster the walls with motivational quotes and information on healthy living. Hang a bulletin board where employees can post recipes they’ve tried and recommend to their peers. Make sure there is space for a refrigerator if you plan on stocking fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t have a dedicated break room, there’s still a lot you can do to create physical spaces that encourage a workplace community around food. Find a nook somewhere convenient where you can fit a mini-fridge or some storage for nonperishable items. Then, drive traffic to this location.
Bring Healthy Snacks
If you want to promote healthy eating, be the catalyst for change by bringing nourishing food into the workplace. The food you choose should be high quality and portion-controlled. To start, make a decision around what type of food you want to offer your team. While snacks are the most obvious (and easiest) way to feed your team, don’t rule out entire meals, like breakfast or lunch.
If snacks are your aim, consider bringing in community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes and let your team eat the fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Prepackaged snacks are also a great idea—and they don’t require refrigeration. Just make sure you’re watching the salt and sugar content in any store-bought snacks. If you’re looking to cater meals, make it a point for everyone to eat together rather than bringing food back to their desks, as this can help build a sense of workplace community.
Tie Office Snacks to Other Activities
While food can certainly bring people together, sometimes you need more than just sustenance to build a community. Don’t simply put out food and then do nothing. Supplement the offer by building programs around your health initiatives.
Lunch and learn sessions are a great way to provide staff training while choosing the healthiest food options to fuel your team. Consider bringing in an expert—such as a nutritionist or a dietitian who can not only tell staff about healthy portions and smart choices but can demonstrate with the food being offered—on a weekly basis. If you’re doing any wellness challenges, like a weight loss or walking challenge, host the regular meetings in your wellness room.
With a little effort in choosing healthy food (and creativity in finding a space for your staff to enjoy it) your employees can build lasting relationships with their counterparts and make a commitment to eating healthier.