Nutrition & Hydration in the Workplace
Ever been ‘hangry’ ?
If you get annoyed when hungry, then will recognise the importance of nourishment and hydration in the workplace, as the building blocks of health and performance.
So how can employees and HR managers use something as simple as food and water as a secret weapon in the workplace?
What do you eat & drink at work?
Have you ever thought about when and where you and your team eat when at work?
Do you eat breakfast and lunch ‘al desko’ and are you downing espresso after espresso to surmount a 3pm energy dip?
Do you work late and order in takeaway?
Do you have a fridge to store their own food, or do they venture out of the office to buy a sarnie?
Why does it matter?
Aside from boosting general health and immunity, eating and drinking well has an impact on, for example:
cognitive abilities like analytical thinking and creative thinking
energy levels even
our approach to cooperate and collaborate with others
Dehydration, for example, contributes to a decrease in physical and cognitive performance. Even less than a 2% body mass loss due to dehydration can lead to fatigue, altered mood, and memory and attention impairment.
In short: what you eat and drink immediately impacts mood and performance, and that impacts the workplace.
While you might not feel a great deal of responsibility to influence or control your team’s daily nutritional decisions, taking care of yourself can inspire others to do the same. The collective upside could be huge.
Some workplaces may make it easier than others to eat and drink well.
As Vida Scannell, head of Wellbeing & Engagement at LEON says: “Our mission is to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, and that starts with our own people. We give everyone a meal on their shift and 60% discount at all other times”.
But what if you do not have the advantage of being a healthy food brand?
Some Practical Ideas
For many companies, simple changes such as providing a staff fruit bowl can provide an easy alternative to sugary snacks and mitigate their sleepy after-effects.
Many employees skip breakfast, setting them up for an energy crash later in the day. Having some low-GI foods such as porridge, nut-packed KIND bars or peanut butter and wholemeal toast can stave off low moods and poor concentration.
To get everyone drinking water, suggest gifting your team free, reusable water bottles and stocking the vending machine or drinks fridge with alternatives to caffeinated beverages. Dash drinks are a great idea, as they’re naturally flavoured fruit-flavoured and free from sugar and caffeine.
As many of us mechanically eat lunch at our desk rather than taking a break from our screens, encouraging colleagues to eat together away from their computers can boost everyone’s mood and give eyes and heads a much-needed break. This can be facilitated with a nice lunch room, team lunches or even catered events using providers like City Pantry.
If teams are burning the midnight oil, they need to order takeaway. Thanks to companies like Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Vita Mojo, it’s easier than ever to order healthy and balanced meals. What’s key is to plan in advance, when willpower is stronger and everyone’s less inclined to go for pizza. A company culture of healthy ordering can go a long way: ideally, set a cut-off time for ordering and get the team leader to order a selection of nourishing meals on behalf of the team.