Nourishing Returns: The High ROI of Investing in Workplace Nutrition for Employers

By Sandra Letenzi

It’s no surprise nutrition plays a significant role in the workplace. But with competing priorities, a lack of resources or knowledge and perhaps resistance to change, it’s not always easy to follow through on this concept. It’s also somewhat difficult to measure the impact of promoting better nutrition in the workplace, so it can be seen as less important than other initiatives. But I would argue that even a small step towards promoting better nutrition for your employees is incredibly valuable, now more than ever – and small steps can still result in meaningful change. We’ll dive more into the specifics on how it pays off in a minute.

It’s worth noting that nutrition is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one piece of the well-being puzzle, albeit a larger one. It’s a catalyst for greater well-being because simply put, when we feel better, we do better. It opens up the possibility of living more meaningfully. We show up
more fully at work, we connect differently with our families and friends, we become more compassionate, more patient and more productive in life.

When you have an increasing number of people on this path of seeking better health, it can result in a more motivated and engaged workforce. This creates a ripple effect and a collective mindset that’s generally more positive. In turn, this naturally becomes a core component of a thriving, desirable company culture. Simply put, health is contagious.

So, how exactly does improving the health of your workforce fuel the bottom line?

Saving on healthcare: When employees have access to healthy food options and are encouraged to make healthier choices, they’re less likely to experience chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease that are so prevalent nowadays. Over time, this can lead to reduced healthcare costs for employers.

More productive crew: Proper nutrition helps employees maintain energy levels, focus and overall health. This can lead to increased productivity, improved morale and reduced absenteeism.

More engaged crew: A healthier lifestyle leads to greater confidence and self-esteem because when a person has more energy and better overall health, they’re likely to feel more capable and in control of their life. This translates to:
A greater sense of self-efficacy and resilience.
Speaking up more in meetings, leading more complex projects and thus greater innovation and collaboration. Human beings have a deep need to feel seen and heard – both personally and professionally.
Improved mental health and reduced stress levels, which can help people feel more relaxed and better equipped to handle challenges.
When people take care of themselves and consistently implement healthier habits, it can be a source of pride and accomplishment that can contribute to a greater sense of self-worth.

Improved employee retention: When employees feel that their employer cares about their well-being, they’re more likely to feel satisfied and valued at work. This can lead to increased loyalty and commitment; they’re more likely to stick around.

Attracting top talent: Many employees today are looking for employers that prioritize their health and well-being. By offering healthy food options and promoting healthy eating habits, employers can show that they care about the well-being of their employees and attract the
best talent. The little things matter and make a difference.

Good PR: Investing in workplace nutrition can also help to improve a company’s reputation and attract positive public attention. This can benefit a company’s image and branding.

Stronger teamwork: A healthy and energized team is more likely to better communicate and collaborate, resulting in a more robust team dynamic.

Better decision-making: Improving one’s nutrition leads to better cognitive function, better memory/retention and problem-solving. An obvious win.

In a world where an estimated 54% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged at work (Zippia 2023), a stronger emphasis on your employees’ health can only help. Employee complacency is expensive. Enhanced health and wellness initiatives are just one avenue for moving the needle on
engagement. Here are some action steps on how to bring this to life:

    1. Offer healthy food options in company cafeterias, break rooms or vending machines.
    2. Encourage employees to take regular breaks throughout the day to eat and promote a culture of healthy eating by hosting seminars, workshops on nutrition and cooking classes. (A dedicated lunch break also allows employees to recharge)
    3. Inform employees of the benefits of a healthy diet and the risks of poor nutrition by providing education and resources on nutrition.
    4. Provide a flexible work schedule to facilitate meal planning and preparation (we all know it often takes more time than we’d like it to).
    5. Consider subsidizing healthy meals for employees in the office or even provide meal delivery services.
    6. Offer discounts on gym memberships, wellness programs and health screenings.
    7. Create a supportive environment by promoting healthy eating habits and encouraging employees to share tips, recipes and advice on healthy eating.
    8. Walk the talk by incorporating healthy food options at meetings, events and gatherings.

Whether these ideas seem like a stretch or somewhat feasible, I hope it gives you food for thought (pun intended!).

Health and workplace excellence are more closely linked than you might realize. Everything is connected. At the end of the day, regardless of titles and which industry you play in, everyone wants to be healthier. Health defines the rhythm of our lives and the state of our health determines far more than meets the eye. Fostering an environment where health is encouraged, celebrated and valued can provide tremendous value to both your company and the team you rely on to drive your mission forward. 

Sandra Letenzi is a Holistic Health Coach and workplace wellness advocate with a passion for helping people and organizations prevent needless suffering from chronic lifestyle diseases, so they can have peace of mind and vibrant health. With a focus on gut and liver health, she helps people have more energy and to adopt healthy habits for life, key components for excelling in both personal and professional environments. She is a proud mom to a very lively toddler, has moved all over the country with her husband and loves the great outdoors. She’s compassionate, empathetic and always on a mission to take her health to the next level, so that she can help others do the same.