In work poverty is real. Our country is not functioning as it should. If you have a job, or in some cases multiple jobs, you should be able to afford the basics (shelter, food and warmth) but sadly this is not always the case.
Campaigns for the Living Wage are important as well as campaigns to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid workers in a company are really important but we also need to look at education around how to eat healthily on a budget and within time constraints.
Companies can provide this information to ALL their workers, not just those who can afford to take a lunch break to attend a corporate wellbeing workshop. Which would you choose if you were really tight for money, to attend a workshop which you are not paid for (if you are paid per hour or are not given a paid lunch break), or to earn some extra money so you can actually buy the food you need.
There are lots of things employers can do:
- Pay the living wage.
- Remove zero hours contracts.
- Pay staff for a lunch break.
- Provide a microwave and fridge so employees can bring their own lunch (it’s cheaper than buying it every day).
- Consider having free fruit and veg available for staff.
- If you are providing a lunch buffet, ensure it is a healthy balanced meal with at least 2 portions of fruit/veg per person, low fat proteins, wholegrain starchy carbohydrates and minimal processed meat. Limit sugary foods. And have pots so staff can take leftovers from lunch buffets home with them.
- Try to get rid of the culture of bringing food in when it is your birthday. Provide a birthday surprise on the company budget. This helps those who are struggling not to feel like they have to spend their whole month’s food budget on feeding others rather than themselves or their kids.
- Think about how you do Christmas work dos (as above)
- Provide support for staff around food habits, especially eating well on a budget
- Include food as part of the return to work questionnaire when staff have been off sick.
There is lots more you could do to address this issue. If you would like a review of your work practices to help improve the health and wellbeing of your staff, to improve staff retention and reduce absenteeism, get in touch