Allison Hutton

How Do Healthy Lunch Options Benefit Your Employees?

Within the workplace, healthy lunch options are often left to individual employees. But, there are times when a break room full of pizza may seem more appealing than the salad in the refrigerator. There’s a growing movement of employers encouraging healthy lifestyles among employees to benefit the workforce.

A great way to carry that initiative forward is to be mindful of the food options provided to employees. It’s important for employees to not feel that options such as pizza, cookouts and the like are being completely removed from the workplace, but more of a shift toward an overall healthier work environment. Business News Daily cited a survey from the Health Enhancement Research Organization that showed 25 percent of employees who eat healthy throughout the work day saw increased job performance and lower absenteeism than coworkers who didn’t.

Make Pizza Day Predictable

The goal of shifting toward a healthier lunch environment shouldn’t make employees feel that they’re being required to eat certain foods or shamed for wanting a slice or two. If pizza is a popular choice among employees, choose one day per month that’s designated as “pizza day.” By making this day predictable, employees can plan for alternative personal choices or prepare for a deviation from a diet. Items such as salads or fruit and vegetable trays can be provided, but adhering to a specified amount of time when the less healthy options are available can help. This can encourage employees to snack on the healthier end of the spectrum, prior to pizza being available.

Encourage Employee Participation

You may be surprised to find that employees have healthier eating habits outside of the workplace. During the week, however, meetings, phone calls and deadlines can put a damper on healthy lunch options. Whether it’s pizza in the break room or a quick burger from the local fast food place, convenience often overrides healthy eating. Consider having interested employees sign up to provide a healthy lunch option to coworkers and incentivize the program by allowing the employee to come in at lunchtime with the food option they selected. You could even provide a day off to those employees who provide the lunch.

Use Incentive-Based Wellness Programs

Allowing employees to feel in charge of their personal health while also giving them a feeling of ownership over the idea can greatly increase participation. Incentive-based wellness programs can encompass ideas such as weight loss goals, a lunchtime walking club, fitness center participation and more. Offering incentives to employees for embracing a healthier lifestyle will benefit the employees, as well as the organization, through reduced medical costs, time off work and increased productivity.

Talk openly with your employees about why the change is being implemented. Assure them that this isn’t about controlling what they eat, but working together to create a healthier environment for everyone. Ask for ideas about implementing healthier lunchtime options, and your employees will feel that they’re part of the change instead of being forced into it. If your employees are excited and motivated, the transition will be welcomed and long-lasting.

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