Lynne Graham: How healthy eating is tied to employee engagement

Showing that you care about every aspect of the work experience is the bedrock of employee engagement. It provides the foundation of trust from which employees are prepared to work harder and smarter.

We know that diet can have a massive impact on a person’s ability to do their job. We’re also very aware that the increased pace and demands of the average working day are resulting in trends like eating on the move and a greater reliance on sugary snacks and drinks, which contribute to Britain’s rising adult obesity problem.

In-house restaurants and coffee shops go beyond just providing a food service; they establish a social hub and a sense of community. From a small in-house coffee pod or deli bar to a large complex site with diverse catering services, the sociability of getting together around food and drink impacts on the emotional engagement employees have with their colleagues, their workplace and their employer.

Encouraging social gatherings changes the traditional staff restaurant into a multi-use space, which can act as a counter-balance to remote or virtual working.

One advantage of having an in-house catering service is that extended opening hours can really support flexible working, when people have to start early or work late. It creates a more considerate atmosphere, where people don’t feel so tied to their desks, but instead feel they are free to take a moment to relax and recharge. Socialisation is a fundamental human need. As such, creating a social hub around food benefits not only the individual, but the organisation as well.

There is no denying that food and wellbeing can have a massive impact on business. It is clear from the statistics and my experience that employers need to put time and effort into demonstrating their appreciation for their people. By creating an area where teams can interact socially and where they can get healthy and energy boosting foods, at a time to suit them, an organisation can clearly show its care for wellbeing and, in so doing get the best return from its employees.

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Together with Business in the Community (BITC), we know how important it is to fight the productivity deficit, because at the end of the day, business is at its best when its people are at their best.

– Lynne Graham is HR director at BaxterStorey and is a member of the BITC Workwell leadership team