When most of us hear the words ‘Is your employer promoting a healthy lifestyle’, we tend to think about the heavily discussed topic of work-life balance. That ship has sailed and we’re not going to be discussing that, but it does form part of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s long been the norm for Australian companies to provide snacks and drinks around the office, at functions, team parties, weekly / monthly staff drinks and just about every other occasion including Easter and Christmas. Around easter and Christmas time, we are guaranteed to have chocolate Easter eggs and lollipops dropped off at our desks.
Let’s not forget the vending machine in the corner at our workplace loaded with chips, chocolate, Redbull, Lollie snakes and two sections dedicated to water. You need to stop and ask yourself are the snacks and drinks being provided and promoted at these events in the best interests of you?
Research tells us that over 70% of Australian companies provide standard junk food at events. It usually includes chips, lollies, popcorn, beer, wine and mini chocolates. There is also a trend that sees companies talk the talk, but not actually back up promoting a healthy lifestyle.
It’s all good for your employer to provide meditation classes, incentives to go to the gym, planking and other activities but if it is not backed up by a balanced diet of real food then it’s all for nothing.
I was lucky enough in my younger years to have the restaurant owner where I was working at the time, put a limit on the amount of soft drink we could access throughout a food service. All because he did not want our teeth falling out and us being overloaded with sugar. I look back now and I’m grateful for that.
We all spend a considerable amount of our life at work, our workplaces become our surrounding environment just as much as our homes. We know that when junk food is in easy access around us we’re tempted and tend to start snacking on it. It almost seems to be human nature.
I believe that if we all started making changes in the workplace to have healthier foods available we’d probably start snacking right.
Some workplaces provide basic breakfast items. If they are anything like what I have seen, it usually include’s cereals, yogurt, bread, jams, butter, and milk. While it might sound OK on the surface, it’s not until you consider that the cereals, flavored yogurts, bread, and jams are all sugar loaded and are not really worth eating.
While the offer is there to have breakfast, it’s a workplace perk that’s not accessible to everyone and especially people who want to eat healthily.
We’d recommend that you approach HR or management about providing healthier breakfast items in the mix.
One of my biggest gripes is weekly / monthly staff drinks. The theme is lots of free alcohol. I do not see how it is ethical or responsible for employers to be promoting the consumption of alcohol to staff members.
Quite often staff Christmas parties and end of financial year celebrations are fueled by alcohol, with no other alternative activities for staff to do at these events. You know you have a dud party if you can take away the alcohol and suddenly there is nothing else to do, this is exactly how non-drinkers feel if they do choose to attend.
We’ve heard non-drinkers often say that it is equally hard to find a drink other than soft drink or water at staff parties. I remember attending a staff party last year where there was no soft drink or water at all, just alcohol. Feeling a little left out, I left within minutes of getting there.
Workplace drinks and staff parties are also another ‘workplace perk’ that is not accessible to everyone. I’d like to see employers take responsibility and lower the amount of alcohol supplied to staff members at all events and to start providing fun, healthier alternatives.
We’d recommend that you approach HR or management about providing more inventive non-alcoholic drinks such as mocktails. The focus needs to shift from ‘let’s get shit faced’ to an approach of having fun and socialising with other staff members.
The Vending Machine
Vending machines in most workplaces are a scary dark place that most people should simply avoid. They exist for when you are time poor and need to grab something quick to eat and drink.
Although the only items usually available are chips, energy drinks, chocolates, and lollies. Ironically they are foods that are not ideal for someone who is time poor.
With Australia’s obesity on a surge. It calls for some healthy snacking. Around two in three adults, or nearly 63.4 percent of the adult Australian population is obese.
One reason why people are becoming obese is due to unhealthy snacking. it’s presumed normal to eat a packet of Doritos or gulp through a Red bull without giving the body an aftershock. But what simple carbs and snacks are doing to us is extremely appalling.
The good news is that there are a number of healthy vending machines around. Melbourne’s ‘FüD’ vending machines and Brisbane’s ‘All Real Food’ vending machines have so far been very popular.
Healthy vending machines are stocked daily with fresh food items. Anything not sold that day is given to the homeless. We’re talking a win win situation.
It’s worth doing a bit of research and asking other staff members their thoughts on implementing healthier foods and drinks around the office. I somewhat believe that reducing the amount of alcohol available at company events is not going to be popular with staff but this one is really an employers responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff.
- Employers need to stop supplying staff with high sugar, high carb, high fat and salty foods. A healthy body and mind perform better at work than one that is suffering the jitters from too much sugar.
- Employers need to lower the availability of alcohol at all company events and supply healthier alternatives.
- Employers need to start taking responsibility for the wellbeing of employees.
Healthy Vending Machine
Products are made fresh daily and stocked in the mornings
A large variety of food items are available.
Chet Carter is an Professional Journalist of 25 years, but has worked with a range of businesses giving him in-depth understanding of many different industries.