How having employees eat at their desks can harm your business

With huge deadlines and increasing levels of stress, many workers no longer have time to leave their desks for lunch. However, it could affect your company in a bad way

How having employees eat at their desks can harm your business

Office desks seem to have become our dining tables as it is estimated six million UK employees do not leave their desks at lunchtime and 28% do not take a break at all, according to a recent survey from Bupa. One of the main reasons for this is because employees can’t afford to waste time grabbing lunch or at least they think they can’t.

When working in a busy, high-pressured environment it is very difficult to sustain a balanced lifestyle with lack of time being a huge barrier to eating healthily. It is not surprising that almost half of workers say they have put on weight at their current job, according to a  recent CareerBuilder survey. 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.

After the initial 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. As a result, the impact on productivity levels is costing UK businesses £50 million a day. 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. In 2017, the cost of workplace absences rose to £18bn, which is down to not only physical complaints but mental health issues also.

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.

Many employers are realising the major impact desk dining is having and are looking for ways to encourage employees to incorporate healthy choices into their working lifestyle. This is mostly through staff perks such as offering discounted gym memberships or providing free fruit in the breakroom, however these don’t solve the lunchtime issue.

New technologies mean company online and mobile ordering apps, powered by pre-ordering technology like Preoday’s, can open up the opportunity for employees to pre-order healthy lunches from the staff canteen. This means they can take less time waiting for lunch because it will already be prepared for them, and also encourages those who would normally skip lunch due to time pressure. Pre-ordering also allows for better planning, because it can be done on the commute to work or the night before at home.

Nick Hucker
Nick Hucker

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