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October 9, 2019

HOW TO PRODUCE HEALTHIER EMPLOYEES

“What should I do to make my team healthy?”

A high-ranking young IT executive asked me this at the sidelines of a business forum. Having heard that ECHOstore represented Slow Food principles, she asked if we could suggest how to let her team eat “good, clean and fair” (or at least eat better) so they can live well.

Health is wealth, but now the Gen Z and some millennials have chosen to skip healthy eating even while they engage in today’s trendy marathons, gym workouts, and triathlons. To gym or not to? To bike or spin? To still smoke cigarettes or “vape” or the even more dangerous juul.

While it’s been a fad and trend to workout at the gym it has also been a fad and trend to eat fast food and junk. Maybe the gym sessions sort of offset the bad eating habits? Maybe the young feel entitled to eat anything they like because they work out anyway?

Milk tea, energy drinks, fried chicken, burgers, doughnuts—ice frappe, the cream-laden chocolate “coffee” drinks with lots of whipped cream—fat and sugar, but no coffee at all. Even coffee, by the way, should be taken in moderation as it affects the nervous system.

What else is trending? Unlimited rice, bottomless iced tea (full of sugar) and juice drinks are 10% juice and 90% water and sugar. I could go on and on.

“I gave my team free lunch that’s healthy and it went to waste” a vegetarian IT boss shared with me. “What will I do to feed them well?” she asks.

When will they heed the wake-up call that many young people in the workforce have been affected by early-onset diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks? Younger people succumb to cancer, unexplained diseases and a general state of bad health.

Every year we ask our employees to get a physical exam and then a doctor tells them what they should avoid and what they should watch out for. Some turn out to be healthier after the talk, some do what they want to do, and some just fall by the wayside.

What can we do to help these future workforce leaders to eat better?

1. The Scare button
Maybe if they see a colleague get sick they may get the message. Maybe.

2. The Freebie
Maybe companies can give them healthier meal alternatives for free as a corporate benefit. Some companies ask us to provide them weekly with healthier chips and snacks.

3. The Snacker
Maybe companies or offices can provide a sampling of healthier snack choices: camote chips instead of potato; banana chips; fresh fruits; nuts; vegetable sticks, granola, popcorn or popped brown rice and sorghum.

4. The Town Hall meeting
Make it cool to eat well at the office. Reward healthy eaters. Weigh-in or clock-in to set goals for weight loss.

5. Offer substitutes at the pantry
One cola for sale OR fresh Coconut juice for free
One hotdog sandwich OR a free mushroom burger sandwich
One fried chicken OR a free chicken salad with whole wheat bread


Make it fun! 
Weigh In
Measure up
Set a goal for weight loss and waistline figures.

Make them part of the journey.
Start an urban farm where they can harvest their food.

Reward “no sick days” with travel or gadgets.

Then, teach them to cook their own good food. Cooking lessons for those who live alone.

Partner with Food Delivery Services. Healthy food to be subsidized by the office?

When you start to eat healthy your body will help you maintain the new diet. You will start to avoid the usual fast-food favorites and opt instead for better food.

Try doing it for a week and you will be a new person, a healthier one. Even if you do not work out. Just walk, eat well, do not smoke and avoid temptations like buffets and “unlimited” offers.

For our team, it is a work in progress. We know that it is not easy to get real food for cheap. So, we offer fresh organic vegetables for them to take home (for cheap), we have heirloom rice, coffee and honey they can afford to buy.

And most of all, we must walk the talk. It all starts at the top. Leaders must first eat well, live well and then influence the team to do as they should.

Are you woke to health?

 

 

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