Productivity linked to healthy eating habits

By Lila Bruk

Every company wants to maximise their productivity. Unfortunately very often
employee absenteeism ends up hindering a company?s progress.

Statistics released by Statistics SA claim that absenteeism is costing companies
more than R12 billion a year. In addition, the rate of absenteeism is not decreasing,
but rather increasing at an alarming rate.

In 2000, Statistics SA found that 0.7 million people were absent from work,
whereas in 2012 this number increased dramatically by 397%.

More specifically, the reasons for sick leave taken by employees were:

· 14.08% - influenza
· 7.14% - back pain
· 6.09% - gastroenteritis
· 0.7% of men and 1.2 % of women - depressive disorder

Fortunately, in recent years there has been increased awareness about the
importance of employee health and wellness. This is in part due to the
aforementioned concern about employees? health and wellbeing on absenteeism and
thus company productivity.

However, employee wellness is also important for company culture and to make
the workplace an enjoyable place to be in, which once again has a positive effect on
employees? productivity. Research has also suggested that absentee day costs drop
by R28.15 for every rand spent on wellness programmes.

Unfortunately, many employee wellness interventions and programmes fall short
at actually improving employees? health status as they fail to take into account the
practicality of what food options are available for employees. Many employees lack
time to prepare healthy meals at home and thus rely on the quick (and usually
unhealthy) meal options provided at company canteens and takeaway restaurants
nearby. By providing employees with tasty and convenient meal options, they will
experience many physiological and mental benefits. For example, staff will be able to
improve and/or manage their blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels (where
applicable). In addition, healthier meals will also have beneficial effects on
concentration, mood, self-esteem, memory, stress levels, energy levels and sleeping

This is where the benefit of the Servd Fresh Convenient Healthy Meal Solutions
comes in. Servd Fresh is the first company to bring fresh and healthy food vending
machines to South Africa. This much-needed service offers businesses the
opportunity to provide delicious, freshly prepared, wholesome meals, smoothies and
snacks for their staff at the touch of a button. This service is based on a no-risk,
low financial investment business model. All businesses are constantly looking for
ways in which to cut costs - these vending machines are the answer. Staff will have
access to healthy food at a time that is convenient to them, not only when the
canteen rings the bell for lunch.

Convenience doesn?t always mean junk food. The range of food available in the
vending machines is "food as it should be? - freshly prepared, never frozen and
vacuum-sealed so there is no need for artificial preservatives. Servd Fresh menus are
changed regularly and are always based on a balanced nutrition. From breakfasts,
snacks and ready-to-eat meals to bottled water, smoothies and juice boosters, the
different menu sets available for the machines will ensure that everyone?s tastes are
catered for.

Servd Fresh provides tasty and nutritionally-balanced meals to employees in a
convenient and accessible manner. As a result the benefits to both the employee
and employer are numerous.

Employee benefits:

· Improved productivity and job satisfaction

· Improved immune function and thus greater resistance to disease (therefore
lower risk of contracting influenza and gastroenteritis)

· Improved mood (thus potential improvement of depressive disorders)

· Improved weight management, which in turn can also reduce the risk of

· Improved sleep patterns

· Better self-esteem and self-image

· Better memory and concentration

· Improved energy levels

· Improved blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels (where

· Improved knowledge of healthy eating choices

Employer benefits:

· Reduced risk for chronic disease through making healthy lifestyle changes.

· More productive employees

· Employees experience less stress and decreased rates on injuries and

· Less absenteeism

· Employees have greater job satisfaction, are happier within their jobs and thus
are more likely to stay within the company, thus resulting in a reduced need for
recruiting new employees.

· Better company culture

Lila Bruk, a registered dietician and nutritional consultant