Who doesn’t love some cake when celebrating a birthday?
Chocolate, carrot, meringue, coffee, banana… most of us have a sweet tooth and find it very hard to resist indulging if it is put right in front of our noses.
At work, it is quite common for people to bring cake in to celebrate a colleague’s birthday, but should employers be thinking about putting an end to this in order to promote a healthier workplace?
Is this office tradition actually making our national obesity problem worse? Is it contributing towards poor oral health?
New guidance produced by Business in the Community and Public Health England has suggested that conversations need to occur to see how special events are celebrated at work, in particular whether there are other healthier options or ‘cake days’ can be shared.
In the last few years, the importance of employee health and wellbeing has been recognised by employers. More emphasis is being placed on providing free fruit and vegetables, encouraging people to walk or bike to work, providing discounted gym membership or group exercise classes and offering awareness seminars or workshops, for example on nutrition, sleep, smoking cessation or stress. All of these types of initiatives aim to help employees be more productive at work and less likely to take time off work.
But is the way to a healthier workforce to ban people from eating cake on a colleague’s birthday? Probably not. Not everyone wants to be told what to eat or how much they should exercise and it’s not likely to stop people from reaching out and grabbing biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps or get up and be more active.
However, it is a good idea to promote moderation in the workplace, to help support employees with their health, encourage people to get away from desk at lunch and have a walk, give them access to a healthier food and drink options and provide incentives for people to exercise.
Employers definitely have a role in making employees think more about their health and the consequences if they don’t. If you would like to discuss employee wellbeing in your organisation further, contact us.