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Improving employee wellbeing by reducing the desk dining phenomenon

Improving employee wellbeing by reducing the desk dining phenomenon

Office desks seem to have become our dining tables, with fewer than half of British workers leaving their desks for lunch. One of the main reasons for this is because employees think they can’t afford to waste time grabbing lunch. Read our latest article that was published in Open Access Government.

Improving employee wellbeing by reducing the desk dining phenomenon

When working in a busy, high-pressured environment it can be difficult to sustain a balanced lifestyle with a lack of time being a huge barrier to eating healthily. It is not surprising that almost 50% of workers say they have put on weight at their current job. Sitting inactive for long hours, paired with little opportunity to leave the office to source healthy choices at lunchtime isn’t going to be good for the waistline. Instead, employees are fuelling themselves on highly caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks for a quick boost of energy. However, that’s all it is, quick and short-lived.

Post sugar rush, energy and productivity levels crash, leaving employees feeling fatigued and unable to concentrate. This means not pausing for a proper lunch will waste more of an employee’s time in the long run. Our bodies need nutritious fuel to be effective working at a fast pace. There are also many long-term impacts of quick snacking work life on businesses; a poor diet is the leading contributing factor to bad health. Not only does poor nutrition affect the body’s immune system, but being overweight can cause a whole range of ailments from back pain to type 2 diabetes. Ultimately these result in an increase of employee absences.

Eating unhealthy snacks at our desks is not the best food for thought; not only do our bodies need to be nourished, but our brains do too. Having the right food not only improves your mood but also helps the brain function. However, high doses of caffeine and sugar leave people feeling anxious and depressed when the effects wear off. Therefore, looking after the nutritional wellbeing of employees is vitally important for employees with high pressured and stressful jobs.

For those offices with restaurant or café facilities, one solution that employers can look at to improve this ‘desk dining’ lifestyle is by encouraging them to use the office canteen. How can employers and catering providers encourage workers to eat in their canteen more frequently? We recently conducted a survey of 2,000 employees with a workplace restaurant or cafeteria and our survey found that people are most concerned with value and convenience when it came to visiting their canteen at work. Almost a third (27%) of UK employees surveyed said that speed was important to them but 24% said it currently takes too long to queue in their cafeteria.

employee wellbeing
Cuisine Culinary Buffet Dinner Catering Dining Food Celebration Party Concept. Group of people in all you can eat catering buffet food indoor in luxury restaurant with meat and vegetables.

However, these customers being lost to slow service can be easily recaptured – 21% said that they would visit more often if the service was queuing faster and 26% would visit their canteen more often if they could pre-order lunch and pick it up without queuing.

Currently not enough office restaurants are making the necessary investments to meet these specific demands – only 17% of workplace canteens have introduced pre-ordering and 12% are offering pre-payment facilities. This is an area that employers should look at closely this year if they are serious about stopping desk-dining and improving employee wellbeing.

This article was featured in Open Access Government.

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