You’ve probably heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” While this isn’t meant to be taken literally, the food you consume can largely impact your mood, productivity and motivation. Therefore, providing nutritious food options in workplaces and college campuses is crucial. This encourages healthy eating and productivity and offers more variety for workers.
From boosting employee morale to promoting a more inclusive menu, there are many reasons to upgrade your company’s snack, meal and beverage choices. Read on to explore the benefits of providing healthy food options and why you should consider it for your organization.
Why It’s Important to Provide Food Options in the Workplace
If you don’t currently provide healthy options or have a limited menu, we highly recommend reevaluating your dining options. By expanding your menu with more nutritious choices, you’ll likely see a valuable change in productivity, performance and overall work culture. Discover the importance of healthy food in the workplace with the six benefits below.
1. Boosts Employee Morale
Employee morale describes the satisfaction, attitude and overall outlook employees have toward a business or organization. To retain strong workers and a positive attitude toward your company, it’s essential to provide a great menu and dining experience for your employees.
Nothing delights the modern workforce quite like food. It’s a favorite perk of many employees and a great way to make them feel valued and appreciated. When they see the company making an effort to nourish the workplace with quality food options, they can feel genuinely taken care of by their employers. This reinforces a happier attitude at work, increasing employee morale and the desire to stay at the office.
Additionally, providing food for business events and office parties is another great way to make employees feel appreciated in the workplace. It’s a reward that recognizes their hard work and contributions to the company.
2. Improves Productivity
Food can directly impact productivity and performance regardless of the organization or type of work. The body converts nearly everything we consume into glucose — the energy needed to keep the brain alert. If the brain receives inadequate glucose, it can result in loss of focus.
Additionally, not all foods convert to glucose at the same rate. For instance, foods like bread, soda and pasta release glucose quickly, resulting in a quick burst of energy followed by a slump. Meanwhile, foods like chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers release glucose more sustainably but require the body to work harder.
Unhealthy meals that release glucose too quickly or make the body work unnecessarily hard can decrease productivity. While it’s cheap, easy and tempting to stop for fast food during a lunch break, employees may risk their focus and job performance without realizing it.
Meanwhile, nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that help produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to learning, attention, memory and motivation. These healthy options give workers the energy they need while boosting engagement and creativity.
If you’re looking to elevate productivity in the workplace, here are some of the best office snacks to consider:
- Carrots and hummus: While carrots are rich in beta carotene and Vitamin A, hummus is packed with essential nutrients like protein and fiber. Together, these two are a nutritious pair and a well-rounded snack.
- Celery or apple slices with peanut butter: Celery is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins like A, C and K. Meanwhile, apple slices are a great source of fiber, sucrose, fructose and glucose. Combining either with peanut butter — a good source of omega-6, protein and magnesium — creates a nutritious, tasty and filling snack.
- Granola: An ideal snack to help anyone power through the work day, granola provides an excellent boost of energy. It’s packed with fiber, protein and fat — not to mention it’s easy to tuck into a work bag or stash inside a desk. Mixing granola with some yogurt and fruit makes it all the more delicious!
- String cheese: A nutrient-efficient snack rich in fat and protein, string cheese is another excellent addition to your office snack selection. Plus, its effective packaging can help promote natural portion control.
- Jerky: Eating beef jerky is a great way to enjoy a filling snack and a rich boost of protein. It’s also packed with iron and other minerals to help regulate energy levels and blood health.
- Greek yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt is far more nutritious than other types of yogurt. An excellent source of calcium and probiotics, it’s another great option to consider serving your employees. Plus, you can add more flavor by mixing in your favorite fruits and granola.
- Hard-boiled eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are full of nutrients and minerals like fat, protein, iron, magnesium, calcium and more. Many hard-boiled eggs are available pre-packaged, making them easy to store in your office fridge.
- Nuts: Depending on the type, nuts can be a highly nutritious snack to enjoy in the workplace. For example, pistachios and almonds are rich in protein and monosaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol and provide energy. Additionally, mini packets of nuts are easy to serve and snack on in the office. However, you may want to serve varieties like macadamia nuts and pecans in moderation. These tend to be the lowest in protein and highest in fat and calories.
While it’s not a snack, adding a coffee bar to the office is another excellent way to boost productivity. Coffee can help keep employees alert, improve memory, encourage faster learning and increase creativity.
3. Promotes Healthy Eating Habits
As a boss, manager or leader, it’s important to set a good example for employees and serve as a role model. One way to do this is to encourage healthy eating at work. In fact, over 82% of surveyed adult employees in the U.S. said having healthy food options at work is important to them. In addition, 68% value help from their employer in eating healthier.
From conducting educational campaigns to providing employee incentives, there are many ways to promote healthy eating in the workplace. Another vital way to foster a healthy environment is by providing more nutritious food options. Rather than stocking vending machines with chips, sodas and candy, allow your employees access to healthy foods like leafy greens, nuts, fish, berries and oatmeal.
To foster a better work environment and stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle, consider expanding your menu with more nutritious food options.
4. Builds Employee Relationships
While it may seem unrelated, food can help build employee relationships and improve work culture. However, it’s about more than the options you serve — it’s how you serve them as well.
For instance, lunch breaks are the perfect opportunity for employees to engage in conversation and get to know one another. However, nearly 40% of millennial workers skip lunch breaks. This makes it challenging to build meaningful relationships with other employees, as they only interact on a professional level and not a personal one.
As a boss or manager, you can play a role in bringing employees together and building friendships. If you’re looking to stimulate conversation and form relationships among workers, here are some great ways to build workplace culture with food:
- Provide free snacks. People love to snack in the office — even more so when the snacks are complimentary! Providing healthy snacks in the breakroom to enjoy throughout the work day can boost performance and morale. Additionally, your employees won’t have to buy or bring their own snacks with them. This also encourages friendly breakroom conversation as employees stop in to grab a snack.
- Create spaces to eat together. A breakroom with comfortable furniture is one way to promote good conversation among employees. However, you can go a step further with a workplace café or micro-market, enabling employees full meal access without having to leave campus. By providing an eating space with various menu options, workers are more likely to eat together at the office instead of running out on their lunch breaks. Even a simple, friendly lunch with co-workers is a phenomenal way to build bonds and relationships.
- Serve unique cuisines. Providing inviting spaces to eat is important, but food itself brings people together. Including diverse and unique cuisines is a great way to liven up the workday. You also might consider a weekly tradition where an employee makes their favorite dish and brings it to work for everyone to share. Get creative with it!
- Organize food-themed events. Whether during or after work hours, a food-themed party or event is a great way to build a positive work culture for employees. There are various possibilities to consider, like a game day party with appetizers or a summer barbecue with grilled meats.
Social interaction is a great way to build relationships and bring the team closer together, making work more pleasant for everyone. Creating a healthy dining experience that promotes togetherness and unity is an excellent way to accomplish this goal.
5. Increases ROI
Return on investment — or ROI — is a ratio between investment and net income. It measures the efficiency of a company’s investment to determine how well it has performed compared to others.
Providing healthy options in the workplace can boost your ROI in a few ways, depending on how you serve them. For example, a vending machine with healthy snacks offers an array of benefits that can increase ROI:
- It’s a convenient way to feed a large group with minimal overhead.
- It requires a fraction of the budget to run a cafeteria or concession stand.
- It helps conserve energy, requiring little electricity to run 24 hours a day.
Installing a micro-market in your workplace is another great way to drive up ROI. A micro-market is an unmanned retail space where customers can purchase a variety of snacks, meals and beverages with automated self-checkout kiosks. In other words, it’s a convenience store or mini-market without cashiers. Food items are restocked regularly, providing employees access to fresh, quality options throughout the work week.
On average, a micro-market saves nearly $14,000 in upfront investment, delivering $1,000 in monthly sales for an establishment with 500 people. Due to its high convenience, ease of use, product variety and easy payment options, a micro-market can be highly profitable.
6. Promotes an Inclusive Menu
Lastly, providing more food options is an excellent way to create a more inclusive menu overall. Custom meal options can accommodate those with special dietary needs and preferences. Not everyone has the same diet or enjoys the same foods, so tailoring your workplace menu to different food allergies, dietary restrictions and tough-to-please palates is a step in the right direction.
With an extensive variety of options available, employees are more likely to find something they like or can safely eat. When planning your workplace menu, here are some common dietary restrictions to look out for:
- Vegetarian: Vegetarians avoid all meat products, including chicken, beef, pork and seafood. However, they may enjoy meatless options like veggie sausage and black bean burgers.
- Vegan: Like vegetarians, vegans don’t eat meat, but they also avoid animal byproducts. This includes honey, eggs, milk and gelatin. A typical vegan diet consists of dairy and meat alternatives and plant-based foods.
- Dairy-free: Those who are allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant usually practice a dairy-free diet. Dairy-free individuals abstain from products like cheese, milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream. Some can still consume lactose-free dairy products so you might consider including these options on your menu. However, it’s just as simple to craft dairy-free meals.
- Gluten-free: People following a gluten-free diet refrain from all foods with gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. While some choose a gluten-free diet to lose weight and boost their energy, others have medical conditions like gluten ataxia or celiac disease. Since gluten is in everyday foods like pasta, bread and cereal, it can be a challenging diet to accommodate. If you plan to offer gluten-free dishes, monitor the ingredients closely to ensure they’re truly gluten-free.
- Keto: A ketogenic “keto” diet consists of high-fat and low-carb meals. While it’s typically for weight loss purposes, some people with epilepsy use it to help prevent seizures. The keto diet usually consists of foods like eggs, fruits and vegetables, saturated fats, nuts and fatty meats. It avoids high-carb foods like potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, cow’s milk and sugar.
Expand Your Workplace Menu With American Dining Creations
Are you looking to better prioritize healthy eating in the office? Whether serving healthy food for lunch at work, installing a vending machine or micro-market with nutritious snacks or adding a custom coffee bar, American Dining Creations can help make a valuable change in your establishment’s dining program.
We aim to help businesses refine their workplace culture with quality food and refreshment services — keeping employees happy, healthy and productive at work. If this sounds like something that would benefit your company, we would love to speak with you.
To expand your menu with fresh, healthy meal options and encourage healthy living among workers, consider using our innovative dining services. To learn more about what we can do for your business, contact American Dining Creations today!