We talk a lot on this blog about how to keep your residents happy and healthy, and while that’s extremely important, today we want to focus on another group of people you may want to keep healthy: your employees.
Your employees’ wellness is just as important as your residents’. In a study conducted by the University of Texas School of Public Health, researchers surveyed healthcare workers and found that 78% of participants were overweight or obese, and 79% of those surveyed were not happy with the wellness program options their workplaces provide.
Employees in health facilities and hospitals tend to work long, stressful hours. This can lead to unhealthy habits, like eating poorly, less physical activity, and increased stress. But by implementing a wellness program that promotes good habits, you can have a happier, healthier team.
According to the CDC, 83% of hospitals in the United States provide workplace wellness programs, compared to 46% of all employers. Some common services that wellness programs offer are health screenings, health coaches, stress-management programs, and counseling to help employees stop smoking.
Start in Your Dining Room
Providing nutritious food in your dining room not only contributes to your residents’ long-term health and wellness, but also to your entire staff’s health.
When your team is working on-site, they’re probably grabbing food from your cafeteria or dining room every once in a while. There are days where your employees are working long shifts and are probably just going to eat whatever’s fastest. They also may not have had time to make lunch before heading into work, so they need a quick, easy option.
We’ve all been there. When you’ve had a stressful day and are hungry, a big plate of comfort food is what you want. And if your dining room is filled with this type of food, that’s what employees are going to eat. There are ways to supply your employees (and residents!) with healthy foods that still taste good and are enjoyable to eat (See our favorite ways to make healthier versions of junk foods here).
If you charge employees for the food they eat from your cafeteria, you could lower the prices for healthier items to incentivize them to choose those.
Another way to encourage healthy eating among employees is to let them know it’s okay to take a real lunch break. When employees feel like they can’t take the time to have lunch, that’s when they might reach for the quick, unhealthy meal or snack. By having a mandatory lunch break, they may instead choose to sit down and eat something more nutritious or prepare a healthier meal, like a salad. This also may contribute to reducing stress because the employee gets an actual break in their day.
Educate your Employees
Just like you try to educate your residents about healthy habits, do the same for your employees. Add signage around your cafeteria that explains which food options are healthier choices. Also, consider having your dietitian schedule monthly or quarterly talks for your whole staff about different healthy living topics. The Foodservice Wellness Institute offers many excellent resources for information to get started like Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit.
We also recommend asking your chef to hold “cooking classes” regularly to teach employees how to make quick, easy, healthy meals at home. Or, you could create a monthly wellness newsletter to send out to your employees and have your chef contribute some healthy cooking tips to that every month. This could encourage your employees to be mindful of their health even after they’ve gone home for the day.
And your employees won’t know if their new wellness efforts are working unless they see some results. To help with this, offer regular health screenings so employees know where they stand.
Encourage Frequent Exercise
A good wellness program also encourages physical activity. Many of your employees may already walk a lot during the day when they’re checking on residents. However, we’re willing to bet that some of your facility’s employees have more sedentary roles.
Regular physical activity can make people less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer. It also can help with anxiety, depression, sleep, and overall quality of life.
Hold a competition where you divide employees into teams and give the team who gets the most steps by the end of the month a healthy reward (each person gets a copy of a healthy-eating cookbook). You could also work with local gyms and exercise instructors. Ask them to come in and teach your employees a quick workout (like yoga) at lunch.
How We Can Help
Don’t let your employees put their health on the back burner. Keeping them happy and healthy means they’ll be able to provide the best possible care to your residents. Having a wellness program not only increases the overall health of your staff but can also lower your long-term healthcare costs. And even if you have a wellness program already, there’s most likely room for improvement.
Culinary Services Group can be a huge asset to your wellness program. We can customize our offerings to fit the needs of your employees. When it comes to dining options, we’ll label your food as red, yellow, and green light options to help employees make better choices. Green foods are healthy choices, red foods are unhealthy, and yellow foods are somewhere in the middle. We also make our meals with fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, meaning less processed foods for your employees to choose from. Also, all of our chefs are experts in healthy eating and can be a great resource for your team.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can be an asset to your company wellness program, contact us here.