In an attempt to do a good deed I let a local charity put a chocolate box in my reception. I am sure you know the ones, you pay a couple of dollars and in return you get a handful of chocolates with the money going to charity. A nice concept until everyone in the office starts putting on weight, getting pimples and falling prey to sugar mood swings.
I had to get the charity to remove the box and I would gladly give them a weekly donation if I could do it without getting the sugar in return. This exercise made me realise the duty of care we have as small business owners when it comes to encouraging healthy eating habits in our workplace. Of course you can’t dictate what people will eat but we can ensure healthy options are available.
A few years ago I tried to put this into practise by purchasing a pile of organic fruit once a week for everyone to eat. Unfortunately I stopped doing this after about two months because most of the time I through the fruit away, which was a real waste. Having said that and as I write this, I think we have all become much more health conscious and it is probably a good time to try this exercise again.
There are lots of ways to encourage healthy eating in your workplace. One really good way that I have seen in a number of businesses is a healthy eating noticeboard. It has all of the information, menus, phone numbers etc of healthy eating options close to the business. Various members of staff who have an interest in healthy eating update the board and ensure that the information is current and accurate.
Having caffeine alternatives, low fat milk, sugar substitutes and other simple options like this all encourage healthy lifestyles. If there are only sugary, caffinated options around, that what people will drink. Likewise ensuring that there is an abundance of cool, filtered water available really does go a long way to providing an option to soft drinks.
Encouraging without dictating is a key here. I recently visited one business where coffee wasn’t “allowed” on the premises, neither were soft drinks, chocolate, sugar or any other junk foods. I don’t think that being a dictator on what people can or can’t eat is the right way to go about it. It is just like the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. If someone told me what I could or couldn’t eat or drink at work I would tend to tell them a thing or two.
So let people make their own decisions about what they want to eat or drink. The best way to encourage healthy eating is to lead by example. From my experience the more healthy the boss is the more healthy the rest of the staff tend to be.
Whilst it is really important to be aware and conscious of what we put in our mouth it is also very important to be aware and conscious of how we put it in our mouths. Whenever I go into a workplace where everyone is eating at their desk, gulping down whatever they can to get their hands on whilst still working, I get a real sense of things being out of balance. I am a big believer that we should provide a calm, clean and relaxed environment for people to eat and we should ensure that they take the appropriate time to stop and enjoy their meal. Just a stress and pressure spread like fire, so does calm and control. If you are trying to be more balanced, focused and peaceful, yet everyone around you is freaking out, because they are overworked, tired and unhealthy, you are fighting a big battle and one that I don’t think you can win.
To be cool, calm and collected you need all those around you to be the same. Take a proactive stance and create a healthy work environment and you will be amazed at how this will help. As a delightful by product, you’re business will also run more smoothly and be more successful.
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY?
Has your business become a junk food haven? Is there soft drink or chocolate available but nothing else? Well today you can change that by introducing some options. Put up a “Healthy Eating” noticeboard, get the local green grocer to deliver a pile of fruit once per week or get a by some caffeine alternative drinks.