Snacking in The office: Are You Setting the Right Example for Your Employees?

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When it comes to eating, what example are you setting for your employees? Do you snack in the office, always take a lunch break, or usually skip lunch altogether? Research shows that individuals who take a lunch break are generally happier and less stressed, so you should lead by example. There’s lots more you can do to set a good example at work, as well. You might even be surprised at the benefits you can expect by behaving in a way that you want others to replicate. 

Take a Lunch Break Every Day 

Provisions for daily breaks are made under modern awards and enterprise agreements, so for employees who do not fall under any modern award or agreement, there is actually no statutory obligation for a lunch break on the employer’s part. However, in general, any employee who works more than five hours should be provided with an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes. 

Even so, The Australian Institute found that: 

•          Around one in five people don’t usually take a lunch break.

•          Of those who do take a lunch break, 72 per cent cut it short, work through, or postpone their break.

•          One in four workers skip lunch altogether.

•          75 per cent of people feel they need to work through their break because there is too much to do, not enough staff, or because working through lunch is part of their organisation’s culture.

•          One in five people don’t usually take a lunch break.

•          12 per cent say that skipping lunch is the culture in their workplace. 

A study of 500 Australian workers by TSheets found that a quarter of employees are asked to work through their lunch break every week.

This is despite the fact that the following is true:

•          Taking a lunch break is good for your health and wellbeing.

•          It helps to relieve stress, increase concentration and productivity.

•          If you take a lunch break, you are more likely to experience job satisfaction and enjoyment in your work.

•          Less stressed and healthier, happier workers mean higher performance and productivity, and fewer workplace accidents.

All this means a lower turnover of staff - even better for you in terms of retaining talented employees and cutting back on recruitment and training costs.

Lunch breaks are beneficial, no matter what your role or position. By showing your staff it’s ok to take a scheduled lunch break every day, they are more likely to take a break from their work, too. 

Get Out of the Office During Your Break 

Nobody can deny that getting out in the fresh air is good for you. If you don’t already, consider taking a brisk walk outside and stretching your legs, or heading for the gym or swimming pool. Exercise can help you feel more awake if you’re feeling low or lethargic. 

If you prefer to relax, particularly if your job involves you being active and you’re ready for a rest, get away from the workplace and visit the local cafeteria or use the staff canteen if you have one. You could be sociable and ask a colleague or colleagues to join you.

44 per cent of Australian workerseat their lunch while continuing to work; show your staff you’re not one of them. Taking a break can aid decision making, help to sustain concentration and energy levels, and even encourage better information processing. 

Take Regular Breaks from Your Screen 

It’s not just about lunch breaks, but about regular breaks from the screen as well to rest your eyes and for the benefit of your health. Guidance suggests that it’s better to take lots of short breaks than it is to take longer breaks; for example, a five to 10-minute break after about an hour of screen and keyboard use is about right. We’re not suggesting that staff are sent on a break every hour as this would likely be counterproductive to the working day. However, there are numerous ways to get a break from sitting in one position all day. 

It could be standing up to take a call, delivering a message in person instead of sending an email, a trip to the printer or photocopier, catching up on paperwork, clearing your desk, and so on. Not only does this give your eyes a rest, but it’s good for you, too. Prolonged sitting is associated with a range of health problems including musculoskeletal disorder, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other issues. 

There is no statutory entitlement to tea breaks, but now you know that it’s good for you to vary your day you can set the right example. Even if you don’t officially allocate breaks, you can make sure your employees know it’s ok to get up and take a break when they need one.

Demonstrate Good Posture

You and your employees should asses their sitting position. Make sure your posture is correct when you are working at your desk. This should include feet flat on the floor, straight back, arms bent at the elbow, and your eyes level with your screen. 

If your employees see you sitting correctly at your desk, and they know it’s okay to vary their working day by standing and moving around, then they are more likely to do the same. Their general health is likely to be far better as a result, which means fewer medical appointments and days off sick. 

Lead the Way in Healthy Eating 

When you’re in a hurry and energy levels are low, it’s all too tempting to reach for burgers, chips and fried food. But with a little forethought and effort, healthy eating can be the delicious treat that it should be. The key is to plan ahead: take healthy snacks to work with you, and pack your lunch the night before. You can save leftovers from dinner to warm up at lunchtime, or prepare meals in advance and freeze them to take to work. That way you won’t be dashing to the fast-food takeaway when your tummy starts to rumble. 

Sandwiches and packed lunches can be enjoyable as well as healthy; consider soup, chicken or lentil salads, toasted sandwiches, wraps, rolls, paninis, soy and linseed or wholemeal bread, crackers, sushi, pasta, quiche, hummus, yoghurt and fruit smoothies made with low-fat milk. 

Be creative with sandwich fillings; egg, tuna, salmon, capers, avocado, coleslaw, red onion cream cheese, and baby spinach. Instead of cakes, choose fruit, nuts, raisins and cereal bars. Ditch the chips and bite into celery, carrot sticks, cucumber, and raw vegetables. 

Show your staff that you look after yourself and take your health seriously. You’ll be making a great impression on staff and visitors, and the office is likely to look and smell a lot better than it would if you were bringing greasy food in to eat. 

Keep Your Desk and Work Area Clean and Tidy 

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If you are making healthier food choices and eating away from your desk, your work area will already be a lot cleaner. Take it one step further and let staff see you taking pride in your desk area, the office and the environment. 

Recycle wherever you can

If you haven’t already, install recycling bins in the office. Show your staff that you intend to use them, even if that involves a little extra effort on your part. 

Drink more water

Use a refillable water bottle for your drinking water and cut down on those takeaway coffees. You are more likely to drink more water if you keep a bottle on your desk. By using refillable bottles rather than the disposable kind, you are minimising your impact on the environment. A serviced water dispenser in the office will ensure that fresh, cold water is always available.

Use Antibacterial Hand Gel 

Implementing good hygiene will encourage your staff to do the same, and everyone benefits from a more pleasant workplace, fewer germs, and hopefully less staff illness. Wash your hands before and after you eat, and have anti-bacterial hand gel in staff toilets and break rooms to prevent the spread of germs. Keep your work area clean and tidy and demonstrate a clear desk policy. You’ll benefit from a more efficient and organised workplace. 

Clean up after yourself 

If you’ve used the staff break-out area, sweep up, wipe up, and wash up after yourself. By taking on your share of the responsibility for the upkeep of the workplace, you are setting an excellent example for your staff. 

Provide Staff with Healthy Snacks and Drinks

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As well as letting staff see you snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables, consider actually offering them healthy snacks during their working day. If you’re not sure what to buy or you don’t have the time to shop around for tasty, healthy snacks, we can help you. Snackwize can curate a selection of sweet and savoury snacks especially for you, depending on what your staff prefer, the size of your team, and how often you want your snack box delivered. We deliver them direct to your door and we can cover everyone’s dietary needs. 

Healthy snacks can help to combat the afternoon slump that many people experience, and you and your staff will enjoy a more productive day. In addition, if you have a selection of snacks right there for your employees, they won’t need to head out of the office or fill up on sugary foods when they fancy something to eat.

Have healthy snacks available during meetings, or a welcoming bowl of fresh fruit on the table to brighten up an otherwise dull staff briefing. Let them see you reach for an apple instead of a packet of biscuits, and they might just copy you. 

How Will You Influence Your Employees and Colleagues Today? 

Think back through your own life experiences and people you’ve worked with, eaten with and looked up to. How did they conduct themselves and how did they make you feel? The chances are you can identify at least one eating habit you have picked up from a work colleague. Perhaps you can remember an incident surrounding an item of food that either put you off it for life, or made you want to try it. Now it’s your turn.
By setting the right example at work, you can encourage your employees to eat healthier and implement work practices that have advantages for their health and their ability to perform their job. Everyone benefits in the long run. 



Conor Reynolds