How silent snacking keeps you sharp

With studies showing the average person loses focus once every three minutes – and can take a further twenty five minutes to properly refocus – maintaining concentration in the workplace has become an integral part of our work at Sodexo. And after years of research, we’ve come to one indisputable conclusion – it all begins in the kitchen. After all, food isn’t just the fuel that keeps you sharp, it can also improve memory, focus and wellbeing.

The Perfect Full Day Catering Package to Improve Focus and Wellbeing Amongst WorkforcesWe started to look at areas where focus was suffering the most. Chiefly the meeting room. An environment where the rustle of a crisp packet or the noisy crunch of chocolate biscuits so often dilutes and distracts from the important conversations at hand.

We also discovered that heavy and unhealthy lunches such as burgers and chips can have a hugely detrimental impact on our ability to stay focused. So rather than just offer up endless cups of coffee, what could we do to ward off the afternoon weariness?

Our solution - ‘Silent snacking’.

Headed up by our Sports & Leisure Team, the silent snacking programme tackles poor concentration levels in two ways. First, we provide healthier mealtime options that don’t come wrapped in noisy, distracting wrappers. And second, we offer genuine ‘brain-boosting’ dishes, packed with vital nutrients to people who require sustenance that’s as delicious as it is enhancing.

“We have created full-day catering packages which will improve mood and engagement. Ultimately, we want to help our clients achieve more from holding events in our venues.”

Head Chef at Sodexo Prestige Venues and Events

Changing the Way We Eat for the BetterChanging the way we Eat, for the Better

Every week we eat on average 10 of our 21 weekly meals either at the workplace or during work hours. With the majority of us either paying an enormous premium for healthy eating from neighbouring high street retailers or suffering the endemic nutritional deficiency of cheaper workplace catering services. And with those retailers enjoying unprecedented profits, all indications are that people are increasingly prioritising fresher ingredients and better quality food that tastes great.

But what we eat isn’t the only thing that’s changed, how we eat has become just as dynamic. We’re busier, so we often eat on the go, or even during meetings. And while employers may rightfully ask what role they should be playing in the office lunch, the answer - as our research has discovered - should be a big one.

Making the Right Food the Best Food

Making the Right Food the Best FoodWhen you consider that just a 1% drop in body hydration can directly reduce vigilance and working memory, you start to understand why at Sodexo we’ve made it our priority to transform the meeting catering environment into one that encourages superior output. And even though it should come as no surprise that a busy body and mind require the proper nutrients to stay sharp, a staggering 74% of employees still feel they aren’t properly catered for by their organisation.

Which ultimately has a knock on effect on business in the wider sense. Our studies show that obesity is a significant predictor of both short and long-term absenteeism in the workplace for both men and women. Costing UK employers £12bn a year and 168 working days lost. And with the majority of unhealthy meals eaten away from home, it may now fall to employers to help stem this rising epidemic.

Our Food Transformation Director Adrian Evans (formerly of Google Food Programme) believes it’s about more than just making the right food available.

“It’s not simply about providing healthy catering choices, we need to create the right food experience by providing the healthiest choices.”

 

Food for Thought

So how does how we eat impact on how we work? Historically, ‘three square meals a day’ has been touted as best practice with lunch seen as the central daily meal. But with the majority of 21st Century scientific studies pointing to eating frequent, small meals as the best way to maintain energy and effectiveness, we wanted to explore viable alternatives for long conference days.

Which is why we asked our Head Chef to create new ‘conference menus’ designed to combat delegate fatigue. Especially in the afternoon, when most people’s energy levels tend to suffer.

Conference Menus are Designed to Combat Delegate Fatigue, Based Around a Concentration of Boosting Super FoodsExample Snack Menu

Porridge bars

Super green smoothies

Savoury popcorn

Protein power balls

Based around a concentration of boosting super-foods, each meal option was packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre and good fats as well as vitamins C, A, K and B; all of which are thought to have an impact on focus, memory and energy levels.

Healthy employees are happy employees

At Sodexo we know the workplace is more than just an office, it’s your employee’s home from home; where they spend more time than anywhere else. And so, by default, it’s somewhere that needs to offer a healthy environment and diet.

Like all our integrated facilities management solutions, this is a service that’s founded on our dedication to providing services that improve Quality of Life. And we’ve found one of the best ways to do that, and boost the productivity of employees is through positive and delicious nutrition.

Because when employees feel good. When they feel energised by their work and valued by their organisation as well as happy in their environment, studies show they also become more productive in the workplace.

 
Sources:

The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress
Gloria Mark, Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine
Even Mild Dehydration Can Alter Mood
Colin Poitras, UConn Communication

Time for a Gear Change...exploring productivity, employee engagement & talent retention in the automotive sector
Quora Consulting

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