By now, we all understand that it’s vital to have a robust health and safety strategy at work. However, it seems many businesses are just waking up to the importance of championing healthy lifestyles in the workplace too.

Closing this gap is proving increasingly important, with statistics showing presenteeism (when an employee comes into work despite feeling physically or mentally unfit or is simply apathetic in their role) is affecting 72 per cent of organisations.

It’s clear something drastically needs to change in the way companies operate, but how? At Express, we’ve got the lowdown on how nutrition can bolster productivity and why it’s critical businesses take note…

Food as fuel

The recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables we all need is 5-a-day. However, when it comes to getting our fill of greens, the UK comes up woefully short, with less than 22 per cent of us achieving this.

With millions of us failing to obtain the minerals and vitamins our bodies need, workplaces must be proactive to ensure they can help break the cycle.

Making foods high in these essential nutrients widely available is a good first step.

For instance, magnesium, which can be found in nuts and dairy foods, helps to maximise energy and encourage bone health.

Selenium, found in Brazil nuts, is another vital mineral and antioxidant which maintains a healthy immune system and prevents damage to our nerves and cells

Vitamin C also has a wealth of benefits that could help boost the health prospects of your workforce. Not only does it have widely reported immune-boosting qualities, but our brains are also a power consumer of this vitamin which ensures blood vessel integrity and helps maintain our cognitive capabilities; an essential ingredient for an engaged workforce.

Bring the outdoors in

According to a recent study, the “lunch break” is becoming increasingly short and sedentary.

If your employees are reluctant to venture away from the office, it’s important employers try to provide a healthy and varied selection of food and refreshment choices in-house.

Businesses can make the first step by selecting catering partners who understand the value of good workplace nutrition.

At Express, we work alongside our clients to create a bespoke snacking solution that fulfils their needs irrespective of size or budget.

Investing in healthy and affordable meals and snacks can be instrumental in re-energising your workforce.

In addition, creating designated dining spaces away from desks helps to encourage staff breaks, boost productivity and develop stronger interpersonal relationships.

Championing change

Acknowledging change needs to happen is one hurdle to overcome but getting team members onboard is often more challenging.

However, there are ways you can work to educate members of staff about why it’s advantageous to adopt a healthier lifestyle and create behaviour change organically.

Propose lunchtime fitness classes to foster camaraderie and help spread the message being healthy can be fun.

Appointing ‘change champions’ (a carefully-selected group of well-respected team members who can use their voice to raise awareness) is also an effective way to maximise buy-in within your organisation.

You can even experiment with other nutrition-focused perks, such as hosting workshops from experts in nutrition or qualified chefs.

What’s the endgame?

You’ve worked hard to educate and inform your team on the merits of a healthy lifestyle, so what’s next?

To monitor the success of your business’ strategy, in-house meetings, monthly surveys and online forums are a great place to start. You can glean important insights about what your employees want and how best to motivate them.

Encourage managers to conduct their own regular one-to-one meetings to find out how staff feel about the new initiatives and take an objective look at your goals to see whether your aims are being realised.

The most insightful test, however, is to continue monitoring productivity levels, sickness absences and team morale. This will give you the clearest indication of how your healthy lifestyle initiative is faring and how you can support team members struggling to make the transition.

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