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CareerWhile developing frameworks that optimise workplace performance, line managers and employees rarely factor in the impact of dietary habits on productivity levels. Yet, a recent research study published in Population Health Management (a medical journal) has concluded that unhealthy eating patterns can reduce employee productivity by as much as 66%.

Since an increasing number of organisations in Pakistan provide health insurance to employees, they should keep in mind that poor dietary habits make employees more vulnerable to falling ill. This, in turn, exponentially adds to the insurance premium costs borne by the organisation. Therefore, if you are a line manager, it is important to have Employee Nutritional Counselling and Well-Being Programmes in place to ensure the mental and physical health of your workforce.These can constitute:

Counselling sessions to help employees deal with professional or personal difficulties.

Arranging health awareness symposiums, where work-triggered ailments and coping mechanisms (such as anxiety eating) are discussed.

In-house gyms/game areas where employees can get much-needed exercise.

Canteens that serve healthy and nutritious food.

If you are an employee, the adoption of the ‘300 calorie breakfast-400 calorie lunch-500 calorie dinner-150 calorie snack’ diet rule is recommended. Here is how you can implement this:

Include fruit, juices and cereals (high in fibre and vitamin B) in your breakfast; this ensures high energy, efficiency and concentration levels to start off the day.

Overweight employees are twice as likely to resort to absenteeism; therefore, curb the temptation to snack on calorie-ridden junk food; low-fat snacks such yoghurt and nuts are healthier alternatives.

Don’t skip meals; this compromises your decision-making skills and increases the chances of making mistakes and adversely impacts productivity.

Avoid loading your system with caffeine and ensure that you stay hydrated; this will increase your dopamine levels which have been linked to higher levels of employee engagement.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 5, 2015.