Nutrition = profit. At first it seems to be a huge jump. In fact, it is one of those things that somehow feels more American (if you know what I mean). But nestled between the two is the concept of productivity. If a workforce is healthy they will be more productive and hence profitable. And along with hydration and sleep, nothing boosts (or potentially diminishes) the health of a workforce more than diet and nutrition.
I have been spending a fair bit of time recently presenting/pitching for, developing and delivering what I am calling Corporate Nutritional Solutions. This has brought me into contact with people who I have come to realise are not only business leaders and employers, but also innovators and trailblazers.
Speaking to these people is interesting. Pretty inspiring in fact. For them, the benefits are long term and go far beyond the obvious – i.e. a healthy employee does not get sick. Preventing absenteeism is obviously a huge part of improving a workforce’s productivity, but they also point towards improved morale, improved company loyalty and lower company health insurance premiums.
And then there is performance. A happy, loyal employee who is rarely sick and who attracts low insurance premiums is all good and well, but how are they performing? Correct and timely nutrition (the actual timing of when to eat what you should be eating is beyond the scope of this short blog, but is a fascinating issue in itself) improves cognitive skills and helps with concentration.
In fact, the more I speak with these interesting, inspiring innovators, the more I am amazed that all British corporates are not further down the line to formally adopting their own ‘solution’. Sometimes framing things negatively gets the message across more powerfully, which is why I found myself asking corporate clients to reflect less on the potential (impossible to define) future value of increased productivity and instead on how much past mistakes or poor performance has cost the company.
What if absenteeism was reduced by 15%? What if your salesforce had made 5% more calls? What if, out of the 200 people that left the company last year, 10% had stayed because of a happy, healthy, forward thinking environment? This approach often resonates in a more meaningful way because the benefits are more tangible and it is easier to identify a firm number.
So … wouldn’t it be great if business leaders and employers recognised the connection between the food eaten by their employees and company profits? Yes. Absolutely. Obviously. It would be awesome for employees and great for business in general.
To really make a difference though, companies will have to view nutrition as an investment, which will require a change in mindset. There also needs to be accountability – I know companies that have Individual Performance managers, which is a great way of addressing this. Education will be critical and awareness campaigns will play a vital role. Subsidised food plans, much like subsidised gym memberships, will also help introduce employees to healthier habits and keep them motivated.
Here’s hoping we become a little more British in this respect.
Jared, FFF Founder