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Better Diet Means Greater Productivity

At Russell HR Consulting we are generally a healthy bunch. Plenty of green tea and water, healthy eating, exercise and some of the team have wearable fitness trackers. We spend a lot of time at our desks but everyone is encouraged to move around throughout the day and get some fresh air at lunchtime. That said we do have the occasional treat, especially when Lauren has been baking. This week we sampled her millionaire shortbread and it was divine!

Eating well and doing some regular exercise is essential for health and wellbeing. The saying goes ‘you are what you eat’ and what you eat can impact on your workplace performance. To work properly our bodies must be fuelled properly and that includes our brains.

A study by International Labour Organisation in 2005 showed that employees who do not eat well are likely to have a drop in productivity compared to those who regularly eat fruit, grains and vegetables. Overall there was a 20 per cent drop in productivity in those who had a poor diet.

Recently fast food company Pod produced a “Pod-uctivity” report reviewing the foods needed to encourage workplace productivity. The report also asserts that eating well supports the nervous system and reduces anxiety; an iron-rich diet improves attention span and planning ability and regularly eating fruit and veg is linked to increased happiness and engagement.

So the food with which employees fuel themselves has a direct impact on business. A good attention span is important and the ability to plan ahead is key in many roles. For both these things it is important to have an iron rich diet. 20 per cent of women aged 19 to 34 have an iron deficiency in the UK. Iron is found in red meat, green leafy vegetables, grains and nuts.

It’s common nowadays to hear people say they are stressed or anxious. We often find employees get signed off with stress when performance is managed. For those who are genuinely stressed a change in diet may help. Stress can make you crave comfort foods; those high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars (think chocolate, cake etc). This is a vicious circle as the more you have the more you want, especially when it comes to sugar. Replacing these foods for those that are high in vitamin B5 and cortisol such as eggs, chicken, avocado and nuts can help to reduce stress and improve mental reaction to challenges. If you must have chocolate have raw chocolate – delicious but has no little sugar or fat.

We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us. A study by the British Journal of Health Psychology found that those who had a higher fruit and vegetable intake reported greater creativity when at work. This is cause by the production of dopamine in the body which happens after eating fruit.

Promote healthy eating in the workplace. Grazing and snacking throughout the day doesn’t really happen at Clare Stables because our office is a food free zone. We don’t eat at our desks (think of all the crumbs and sticky keyboards!) we all have a bottle of water and otherwise only have tea or coffee.

If you serve food in the workplace or have vending machines consider what is being offered. Ensure there are some healthy options there. Make sure all employees take a break during the working day. Working through a lunch break can have a detrimental effect on performance. Encourage employees to move away from the desk, have a walk around and go outside for some fresh air. Some small healthy changes could have a big improvement on your employees’ productivity.

We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help resolving problems with productivity (we are happy to share our favourite health boosting recipes with you) or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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