Nutrition at Work

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It’s fair to recognize that here in the US we work a lot, in fact, too much. The consequence on a macro scale is a great economy, the consequence on a micro scale is exhausted employees. Our country doesn’t even put a cap on the maximum hours that you are allowed to work per week. We also work 137 more hours than Japanese employees per year according to the ILO. You may already be familiar with the Japanese word karōshi which directly translates to “overwork death.” Working citizens in Japan are literally dying because they work too much, are constantly stressed, and don’t eat enough. We work more than Japan! Perhaps we don’t want to recognize the correlation between the heart attack epidemic in the US to work and stress.

The good news is that times are changing…for the most part. Big companies are allowing more paid holidays and paid vacations (although still not even close to European countries). There are more perks and benefits including free snacks, gym memberships, and online wellness programs. But wait, are these programs really effective? According to a Forbes article, the number one thing that isn’t working is wellness without engagement. This makes sense to me because of accountability. We as humans often need accountability to do hard things. If the internet told me to do 20 pushups, I wouldn’t do them. If a personal trainer were to be in front of me and I had several co-workers doing the pushups together, I would do them. Same goes for nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, are the snacks and food options in the office healthy options? After visiting many office spaces myself I would have to submit a resounding ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’m sure this isn’t the case for many offices in the Salt Lake area, but I am truly blown away by what options are available for employees. From soda fountains to vending machines without a single food item without added sugar or trans fats, there are ZERO healthy options available. I recently spoke to a woman who had recently retired from a relatively large company. After leaving the company she lost 45 pounds! She blames the food options and stress for her weight gain. I’m sure she is just one of many.

So your employer is buying you cheap, unhealthy food, giving you more paid time off, and providing an online wellness program that doesn’t work. You don’t need to be this employer. Unlike Japanese workers dying from starvation, we are dying of obesity. We spend most of our waking days working. Shouldn’t our work environment be a healthy one? Having a real wellness program on site is a win-win situation. Not only do the employees benefit, but so does the company. From reduced healthcare costs to less turnover, employers are really seeing the benefit of having an actual person on site to help their employees be more health conscious.

Jesse Rich