Employers across the UK are ‘not doing enough’ to encourage employees to lead a healthier lifestyle, new research shows.
This is leading to a significant number of employees reporting feeling unmotivated and sluggish at work, warning signs of burnout, and poor mental health.
In a survey, conducted by office catering experts Just Eat for Business of over 2,000 full-time employees with desk-based jobs shows over a third of employees (34%) feel unmotivated at work and 32% report feeling sluggish.
The two are often intertwined, with poor physical health leading to heightened negative feelings — both of which employers can tackle with initiatives like free gym memberships and catered events.
Charlotte Sunderland, Student Nutritionist at the University of Leeds, suggests that nutrition is vital to mental wellbeing, saying: “Eating unhealthily can result in low moods and reduced productivity as a poor diet is linked to mental health disorders such as depression.
Unhealthy foods can give fluctuation in blood-glucose levels which when low result in feeling tired and low productivity.”
“Responsible businesses, leaders and managers need to be looking at the mental health and wellbeing of employees from a holistic standpoint,” says Mental Health Coach, Claire Russell, “taking into account a person’s ‘whole-being’ when it comes to encouraging employees to be healthier at work.”
She has shared five top tips for businesses to encourage employees to maintain good mental health at work through nutrition.
Drink more — Aim for eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, and this will increase the chances of being able to maintain focus and concentration throughout the day.
Eat more fresh fruit, whole foods and vegetables — It’s proven to reduce inflammation in the body, and therefore, lower the risk of depression.
Cut down on caffeine — Cutting down can help you feel less anxious and stressed.
Eat Regularly — Eating regularly will keep your sugar and energy levels steady. If your blood sugar drops, it can make you feel tired, irritable or low.
Take some time out for lunch — Leave your workspace and outside to take a break.
The last tip is especially important, as 42% of office workers report spending their lunch break at their desks every day.
And despite most having moved to home offices during the current Covid-19 crisis, it could make it even harder to get away and disconnect from the office.
The data also showed the importance of employers encouraging healthy habits in the workplace increases with age, as women aged 55+ are more likely to spend most of their lunch at their desk.
Unfortunately this was all the age group least likely to get support at work, with just 23% of workers in that demographic feeling encouraged by their employer — compared to 44% of respondents aged 18-24.
Ben Carter, Managing Director of Just Eat for Business, comments: “Nutrition is, of course, an important aspect of our mental health.
And while teams are no longer in their typical office settings, businesses can still encourage employees to engage in healthy habits during working hours, helping to boost their energy and improve their mental health in the process.
Eating healthier helps us work better, which is why Just Eat for Business is on a mission to transform how other companies do food work.”
Other key reasons cited by employees for being unhealthy at work — aside from the lack of encouragement from employers — were that unhealthier foods are more convenient, and generally more affordable than healthier alternatives.
To find out more about how eating habits impact workplace wellbeing, please visit: https://business.just-eat.co.uk/l/download/desk-eating-habits-whitepaper