We could be wishing our colleagues a happy birthday with a bunch of grapes instead of a cake, if employers follow a new health guide.

Our culture for celebrating good news with a slice of Victoria sponge or a jam doughnut has fallen foul of Business in the Community and Public Health England officials. They suggest employers should have a conversation with staff about how special events are marked at work – suggesting cake days are shared or the cake itself substituted by a healthier alternative.

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Food choices are on the employer menu

The new guide points out that ‘employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces that do not damage an employee’s health and provide environments that support healthier lifestyle choice. Healthy employees drive a healthy business.’

When we think ‘safe workplaces’, we think of traditional issues such as trip hazards, electrical testing and fire exits but should we be extending our thinking to include fridges stocked with salads and shared fruit bowls?

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Rethink your communal kitchen

While it’s not time to completely consign the cake to the bin, it opens the conversation up about employers encouraging healthier lifestyles in the office. Here are some ideas to think about:-

Make your kitchen inviting - if your kitchen is looking neglected, staff will be more inclined to eat out and perhaps make bad food choices. A kitchen refurbishment with a new fridge will encourage staff to store healthy homemade lunches somewhere safe and clean.

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Stock your fridge – maybe not with chocolate cake but as an employer, you could have a food shop delivered every Monday so your fridge is full of healthy food during the week.

Provide somewhere to eat – even if it’s a small break out area, having somewhere to sit and eat lunch within the office is a good way of counteracting staff nipping out for a Greggs.

Think about a communal dining table – if people can eat together, they will be influenced by the types of food their peers consume. Set a good example by installing a big table and tucking in to a superfood salad.

If you’d like ideas about re-planning your workplace kitchen, get in touch.