Many of us will be familiar with the sight of an office desk groaning under the weight of cakes and biscuits brought in by well-meaning colleagues – but some bosses have declared they will ban the unhealthy treats from workplaces.
Protecting.co.uk, a health and safety and employment law consultancy, has collated anecdotal evidence that shows that up to a third of managers and business owners are considering putting a stop to high-calorie snacks in the office.
Not only will the move improve office conditions, these employers say, but it will also have health benefits for employees.
“It’s not just that employees are making a mess, crunching and leaving crumbs everywhere, which is anti-social in a shared office space,” noted one employer, Mike, 56, from Huddersfield. “It’s also that employees who eat unhealthily are also more likely to take days off work, and that’s bad for business.”
Other employers who responded to Protecting.co.uk agreed.
Sally, 45, from Nuneaton, added:
“It might be an unpopular opinion, but it’s true that employees who are more likely to look after their health are generally more concerned with their appearance and how they represent the business. We don’t want to encourage bad eating habits as it spills over into how employees act more generally.”
David Adams managing director BusinessWaste.co.uk, said:
“Our employees collectively took the decision to ban all energy drinks after we talked through the health dangers both to body and mind. We now provide lots of alternative healthy drinks and fruit which make for a much happily lifestyle.”
The protecting.co.uk survey of 950 managers showed that;
- 99% of managers can see an immediate benefit in banning unhealthy snacks.
- 9% already provided free fruit.
- 35% would look at providing free fruit.
- 95% said “they couldn’t envision any uproar from banning bad snacks”.
Chris Hall, spokesperson for Protecting.co.uk, said:
“Many employers are becoming aware of the fact that their employees spend a large portion of their life at work – and that discouraging poor diet can have benefits elsewhere, both for the business and the employees affected.
“By removing temptation to snack on sugary or salty treats, employers are helping their staff maintain a healthy diet, and therefore contributing positively to their overall health. This is obviously beneficial for these individuals, but it also can mean fewer health-related absences over the years, and businesses would be wise to consider it.”
Some employers were also concerned about the financial implication of employees who were damaging their health with poor snack choices. In 2017, over 3 million employees held private medical insurance through their employers – which means that, for these businesses, keeping their employees healthy is not only a moral obligation.
“People have a responsibility to keep themselves healthy and to look after themselves,” said Clara, 39, from Norwich. “But as a business, we pay for medical insurance – and it defeats the object when we allow fatty or sugary food in the offices, we’re basically throwing money down the drain.”
“It’s clear that many business owners are taking a stand when it comes to how their employees behave when they’re in the office, and some people might argue that this is a ‘nanny state’ type move.
“But employers aren’t banning unhealthy snacks outright – simply putting simple rules in place which show that they take the health of their employees (and, as a result, how their employees impact upon the business) seriously, and that will create positive outcomes for both staff and businesses overall.”