With Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2022 highlighting employee wellbeing as a growing corporate trend, Eurest, one of the UK’s leading workplace food service providers and part of Compass Group UK and Ireland, is urging employers to help workers adopt healthier diets.
The survey of 250 businesses, published in January, showed that the number of employers strongly agreeing they have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their employees rose from 20 per cent in 2021 to just over half (51 per cent) in 2022.
An additional 44 per cent of respondents agreed they have a responsibility, and just five per cent disagreed or have no view. However, only 44 per cent of companies have a formal policy in place.
When it comes to what people eat and drink, companies need to offer alternative dishes and encourage employees to make healthier choices. Here are Eurest’s top five tips:
Instead of removing traditional dishes from the menu, make them healthier by adjusting the recipes to reduce calories and improve nutrition. For instance, use sweet potato in mac ‘n’ cheese and leaner cuts of meat where possible. Plant forward dishes, which contain less meat and more vegetables, may also be an option.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular and have lots of health benefits, including less saturated fat. For this reason, there is also growing interest from ‘flexitarians’ – i.e. people who just want to lower their meat consumption in the interests of health and wellness, rather than stop eating meat completely.
So, it is essential that employers embrace vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian-based diets and create an exciting array of nutritious, flavourful plant-based dishes that are irresistible to their workers. If the amino acids are balanced, these menu items can outperform their meat counterparts on key nutrients, such as protein.
A Mintel report in 2019 suggested six in ten adults try to eat healthily most or all of the time, so making nutritional advice and ingredient lists easy to understand will allow employees to make informed choices. Also, offer a variety of healthy menu options including hot, rustic main meals, health treats and snack dishes so employees have a breadth of choice.
The way choices are presented, whether it be as a loss or a potential gain, affects how they are received. So, frame healthier choices as positive, rather than missing out, as this will help nudge employees towards them.
This is key when trying to encourage people to try plant-based or plant forward alternatives. Promote the health benefits of vegetarian or vegan options and how they can fit into a balanced diet containing less meat.
Some people are resistant to change and tend to dismiss food deemed ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’ or even low-fat meat dishes. However, they can be persuaded to start their journey over time, so be sure to create dishes that are new and exciting, as well as healthy. These should grab their attention.
Liz Forte, Health & Wellness Director at Eurest, said: “The survey statistics show that attitudes towards employee health and wellbeing are changing for the better, which is fantastic news. However, they also indicate that many British businesses are still behind where they need to be practically.
“By drafting and implementing a thorough health and wellness policy, companies can fulfil their duty of care to employees. This should start with catering – by encouraging people to make healthier choices when it comes to what they eat and drink, they can build a happy, productive workforce and a positive culture within their business.”