Happy #WorldFMDay

Today, our Executive Chef, @AlistairDay shares his insights on food design for wellbeing and community to enable positive experiences.

Food design for wellbeing & community

Stress meets wellness at work

Mental and physical wellbeing is a topic which seems to be dominating headlines as organisations all around the UK begin to implement plans aimed at reducing cases of mental and physical health problems.

With stress now the number one cause of long-term absenteeism, this is as much a financial issue as it is a moral one and big business are finally waking up to the importance of a healthy workforce.

So where does this leave the facilities management sector and what role should service partners be playing in the implementation of health and wellbeing practices? For starters it creates an unprecedented opportunity for the industry to embrace a key role in ensuring that people’s health and wellbeing underpins everything that happens in an office building environment, while at the same time allowing FM professionals to take on the responsibility for what should be seen as the cornerstone of a happy and productive workforce.

Food design for enabling wellbeing experiences

Wellness encompasses a whole range of things, but when it comes to implementation, one of the best places to start is diet. A healthy mind requires a healthy body and that begins with nutritional food and drinks.

This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out anything with even the slightest bit of fat or sugar, but rather providing options and information so that employees and guests can make informed choices that work for them. It’s also beneficial to tailor the eating format to match the style of working that is preferred. Whether it be the latest street food pop-ups or the more traditional café style dining, it’s all about working to provide an offering that works for the end user.

Our newly designed RESTORE programme for example, focuses on four key nutritional areas; Fuel, Heart, Core and Mood. With menus designed to aid each of these areas, employees are able to tailor their diet to their liking, while also learning about the importance of healthy eating. Having nutritional and dietary input is key for service providers to ensure that they offer food information that guests can trust in relation to wellbeing.

As well as a dietary understanding, it’s also important to have a strong awareness of the provenance and sourcing of food and drink so that you can guarantee the produce is of high quality and that it is both sustainable and ethical.

Sharing plates for building working relationship

Another way to encourage wellness through food which may not be so obvious, is communal dining. We understand that due to workloads, many employees have lunch at their desks, but whenever possible, we encourage them to instead join their colleagues for a shared meal or break where they can switch off and socialise.

It may seem simplistic, but sharing a meal with a fellow staff member can do wonders for team cohesion and solidarity. You can make this more effective by employing specific initiatives such as a weekly meat-free day, a world food week or even just a quarterly team lunch. We run lunchtime featured pop ups, Friday breakfast clubs, ice cream duo breaks, department donut days and offer collaborative hospitality menus to help our workplace guests get together.

Wellbeing approach is here to stay

Remember, developing strong wellbeing practices isn’t just a case of  planning the odd day dedicated to eating healthily, it’s a continuous approach which needs to be built into the fabric of the business. It’s the job of FM professionals to not only implement these practices, but also to ensure that they are maintained until they become the norm.

Alistair Day, Executive chef at Bennett Hay