What impact does nutrition have on productivity?
- Posted by Matteo Milanesi
- On 29 June 2021
- 0 Comments
“We are what we eat,” someone once said, “our habits shape our future,” someone else replied. Our diet impacts on personal productivity to a greater extent than we might imagine. These are the reasons why employers should look at what their employees are eating.
The report issued by the International Labour Office in 2005 confirms that poor diet negatively impacts on productivity, resulting in a 20% reduction as a minimum.
But, how exactly does an unhealthy diet affect productivity?
To answer this question, let’s take a step back: our body absorbs nutrients from the food we eat, but nutritional value is readily confused either with experiencing satiety or eating tasty food.
The human body is a complex organism, which requires different nutrients to function properly, to keep us healthy, active and responsive, so that our organs work well. If you were to place the wrong fuel in a car, it would fail to work. Similarly, the human body fails to work well, if it does not receive the correct nutrients.
Considering that we spend an average 36/40 hours per week at work, as a minimum, it is easy to see how the “malfunctions” of our human body, caused by an unhealthy diet, inevitably affect the quality of our work.
There is a risk associated with nutrition, since poor nutrition can affect the functional capacity of the individual to work; but nutritional risk is often overlooked or not taken into account at all.
One of the most frequent and grave consequences of an unhealthy diet is being overweight or obese, which has a negative impact on work, both in terms of the capacity to work and the increased risk of accidents.
What are the most frequent mistakes people make in their diet? An excessively high calorie intake, nutrients are not being balanced in meals consumed during the course of day, no exercise outside of work. The fact that people are not exercising outside work could also be a direct consequence of an unhealthy diet: by not eating the correct nutrients, we get fatigued, the body does not have what it needs to work well, every task seems more difficult, more challenging and requires a lot of effort to complete.
An unhealthy diet is directly correlated with absenteeism, ill health, low morale, stress and a higher rate of accidents at work.
So what should we do?
Spreading a culture of healthy eating in the workplace is a great place to start, to encourage people to change their personal habits and lifestyle.
Organisations can take up a number of initiatives to help spread a culture of healthy eating:
- Start a healthy eating campaign inside the company
- Provide healthier foods in automated snack machines in staff canteens (or wherever they may be)
- Train and inform employees on the importance of eating a healthy diet and teach them how to eat healthily
- With the help of a medical expert and nutritionist, create a suitable diet for each person according to the tasks they need to perform
- Arrange one-to-one consultations with an Expert
Investing in Health & Wellbeing Programmes which focus on nutrition is a worthwhile investment, since it impacts on mental health and physical wellbeing, lowering stress levels, absenteeism and costs associated with accidents in the workplace; while increasing productivity, efficiency and the quality of work being produced.