Employees’ energy levels dip and peak throughout their working day: sweeping this fact under the carpet will not make it go away. It’s about time we accept that we’re only human: nobody is capable of peak efficiency all of the time.
Modern workplaces require a wellness-centred approach that supports the energy cycles of their teams. Our suggestion? Provide teams with regular meals and drinks throughout the day. The results? Happy and productive employees, achieving more.
Professor Christopher M. Barnes explains,
“Although managers expect their employees to be at their best at all hours of the workday, it’s an unrealistic expectation. Employees may want to be their best at all hours, but their natural circadian rhythms will not always align with this desire.”
So what does Christopher M. Barnes means when he talks about circadian rhythms? And what’s its connection to boosting energy levels?
A person with a healthy metabolism will benefit from more consistent energy levels. Our metabolisms are also connected to our natural body clocks, or in other words, our circadian rhythms. Moreover, experts explain that a defined meal schedule can help to improve our endurance, lower blood pressure and help to maximize weight loss.
Serving meals at regular times every day within the workplace supports employees in sticking to their circadian rhythms. When employees tune into their natural cycles – they’ll benefit from more sustained energy throughout their working day.
Breaking bad habits
The focus is often on (short-term) performance within workplaces with poor company culture. In these companies, employees wouldn’t think twice about forgoing lunch to meet an important deadline. A survey in 2022 uncovered that over a third of office workers are now skipping more lunch breaks in comparison to the previous year.
This is where the problem lies: too many employees are willing to sacrifice their healthy habits to meet professional demands, whether skipping meals, breaks, exercise or sleep. So whilst there might be short-term gains to be had from neglecting lunch breaks, it will only lead to employee burnout in the long term.
Resetting Company Culture
When a workplace invests in its teams with quality on-site meals, they commit to their employee’s health. Since setting up shop in 2005, we’ve witnessed firsthand how quality on-site food establishes a healthier working environment.
Our client’s teams take the time to sit around the dining table, eat good food and relax together. So with workplace meals – employees will feel like it’s OK to put work commitments aside for a moment to re-energize.
We think that companies should support their employees to eat smarter. They can do this by giving their teams the freedom to enjoy sit-down meals, eat nutritious food and avoid sugar crashes from poor food choices. Ultimately, getting employees to ‘eat smart’ is best achieved at the office canteen.
As suggested by Nutritionist Lily Soutter in Facilitate Magazine (page 54), there are a few ways that an on-site caterer can support your team’s energy levels at work. Here’s what we’d recommend:
- Nutritional nudges
Prioritize healthy options when food and drink are displayed—for example, placing low-sugar snacks in front of less healthy snack options at a snack bar.
- More whole grains and fibre-rich carbohydrates
Opt for menus that offer meal options with wholegrain and fibre-rich carbohydrates: such as chickpeas, whole grain bread, oats and quinoa. These ingredients will support a more sustained energy release for your entire team throughout the day.
- Promote staying hydrated
Sometimes it’s worth focusing on the simple things: keeping your team hydrated is one of them. Dehydration makes us tired, and we all know how easy it is to forget to drink water whilst caught up with important business. So promote staying hydrated in the office with more drinking stations and more attractive healthy drink choices – such as fruit and herb-infused water.
- Healthy 3 PM snacks
We love the topic of how healthy snacking can boost energy levels, so much so that we’ve written this blog about it. Unfortunately, snacking on high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar snacks is too tempting during the working day. These snacks only offer employees fast energy spikes that lead to crashes.
Work with your caterer or snack supplier to explore snack products that offer a slower energy release – whilst still hitting the taste factor. Some products you might want to investigate include protein energy balls, nuts, dried meats and popcorn.
A workplace will have a mix of introverts and extroverts, but positive human interactions in the workplace will ultimately energize their time at work. Loneliness and low energy levels go hand-in-hand with each other. So a shared meal between colleagues is an opportunity to alleviate workplace loneliness.
Dr. Seppala comments, “social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical wellbeing.”
A shared meal between colleagues builds up their team spirit. And within a socially connected team, employees are less likely to face detrimental physiological effects of feeling drained of energy. In other words, positive vibes keep the office humming.
Many of today’s workplace professionals are already ‘on it’: they understand that workplace environments should prioritize employee wellness, so teams feel more energized and work smarter. But when it comes to deciding where’s best to invest time and resources to support teams – it’s not all that easy.
We think on-site catering is well worth the investment. From our experience as contract caterers, we have witnessed first-hand how a decent on-site food service can energize teams. A good office canteen can be transformative, adding a spark of positive energy to the workplace environment.
Bad habits, that only satisfy short-term requirements, are minimized when employees start to enjoy their meals at the canteen. This means less of ‘lunch al desko’ culture, unhealthy supermarket meal deals, and staff neglecting their work breaks.
Instead, quality food service puts the focus on employees’ health. Better wellbeing will energize your teams for the challenges ahead. After all, our work life is a marathon, not a sprint.