Looking to focus more on healthy eating within your wellbeing strategy? A workplace nutrition workshop could be a good place to start.
Increasingly employers are recognising the impact of healthy eating on health and productivity and look for cost-effective ways to promote healthy eating among their workforce. Having delivered close to a thousand nutrition workshops over the past 6 years, we’ve learnt through experience the dos and don’ts of successful workshops. So what do you need to know in order to get the best results?
1. Where do nutrition workshops fit within your overall wellbeing strategy?
Planning a nutrition workshop is a good place to start, however it’s important to know how it fits in with your organisation’s overall wellbeing strategy. Without a specific objective, how will you gauge what was achieved and whether it’s worth repeating in the long run?
Workplace nutrition workshops are most effective as part of an ongoing structured initiative. It’s a bit like going to the gym: a single workout will feel good for a couple of days but is likely to have limited long term impact. Also bear in mind that nutrition is not neatly confined to physical wellbeing, it also offers an effective approach to mental health which complements other initiatives such as mental health first aid training.
Be sure to make use of your session not just to share information but also to gain useful insights for the future: how engaged were your employees? How relevant was the topic? And importantly do they feel committed to making practical behaviour changes as a result?
2. When to time your workplace nutrition workshop
It’s a good idea to use key health themes throughout the year to time your nutrition talks or provide the framework for your programme of talks. Some examples include:
– January and its new year resolutions
– National Heart Month in February
– Nutrition & Hydration week in March
– IBS Awareness Week in April
– Mental Health Awareness Week in May
– Diabetes Week in June
– Know Your Numbers in September
– World Mental Health Day in October
– National Stress Awareness Week in November
Each year we publish a wellbeing calendar to help our clients plan their wellbeing activities. If you’d like to receive a copy, you can sign up and request our FREE nutrition toolkit here.
Having a programme of workshops throughout the year (for example quarterly or monthly) will help build awareness over time, and if you can publish the dates in advance (e.g at the start of the year for the whole year) this will boost anticipation and allow people to save the dates in their diary.
Workplace nutrition workshops usually run for an hour or less and are often scheduled over lunch. A nutrition Lunch and Learn, also sometimes called a brown bag meeting (where participants bring along something to eat) is a great way to fit some healthy eating education into a busy work day, without taking up normal working time.
On the other hand, scheduling corporate nutrition talks during work hours can send a positive message that the employer values the importance of nutrition education on a similar level to other training topics which would run during working hours. This might also encourage employees who feel initially less drawn to the topic to attend, whereas they might have given it a miss if it meant giving up their lunch hour.
3. Types of corporate nutrition talk and topics covered
Corporate nutrition talks can be aimed at groups of varying sizes and have different levels of interaction. If you wanted to promote nutrition at your staff conference, you could schedule a slot in the programme to be delivered as a plenary session. This type of session aimed at larger numbers might not allow for high levels of interaction, however it should be eye-opening and encourage attendees to apply the knowledge in their daily lives. For example, by setting a ten-day challenge or encouraging attendees to set personal goals as a result.
An ideal number to ensure maximum interaction is 20 participants and there’s a wide range of useful nutrition-related topics to choose from. We offer a choice of more than 20 topics which we keep adding to based on requests we get from our clients. Some examples include:
– The 7 nutrition habits of highly effective people – a strong foundation for nutrition to help people start feeling benefits rapidly
– Food for the mind
– Lose weight, gain energy
– The sleep detective
– 10 steps to a healthy digestion
– Nutrition for frequent flyers
– Nutrition on the road
– Healthy meal planning for shift work
We also run smaller coaching groups with as few as 6 people, which are more focused on nutrition coaching and guiding participants to install new habits. These sessions can focus on topics such as meal planning, setting and working towards specific goals which could be anything from weight management to improving sleep or general prevention (in particular lifestyle diseases such as diabetes type 2 and heart disease for instance).
The session could include health screening such as body composition checks alongside a nutrition consultation, where personal results make the nutrition knowledge shared feel more relevant and enhance participants’ motivation to put it into practice.
Nutrition is ultimately a highly practical topic and sessions which include food demonstrations and tastings are also a great way to motivate new habits. We come across a lot of employees who feel that time constraints are a big barrier to healthy eating, or they just don’t enjoy preparing food. Participating in a hands-on food session sharing ideas for breakfast or quick and easy lunch boxes often provides the inspiration needed to overcome this.
Our ‘Ready, Steady, Smoothie’ competition is a fun way to learn the dos and don’ts of healthy smoothie making and show just how effortless it can be to dramatically up our intake of colourful fruit and veg.
There are plenty of options, which can feel overwhelming when you’re getting started with nutrition in your workplace. For this reason, we’ve developed the Nutrition Discovery Session as an ideal starting point, including all the insights you need to plan your future programme.
4. The ingredients for successful nutrition workshops
- Your nutrition workshop content should convey eye-opening information which is based on up to date research.
Providing a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms is much more effective than simply stating facts or guidelines. ‘Aim to have 5 portions of fruit and veg a day’ is not very motivating in itself.. it can make people feel like a child being told what to do – the perfect recipe for making you want to rebel against something! A good nutrition workshop should explain the science behind this recommendation, in a way that everyone can understand but without being too simplistic. It’s a fine balance which experienced corporate nutritionists are used to finding, and it can vary according to the audience. By valuing people’s intelligence and empowering them to reach their own conclusion, your workshop will be much more likely to motivate lasting change.
- It should be engaging
Beyond conveying insightful learning, a great nutrition workshop should include additional elements that engage the audience. We frequently use ice-breakers, mini-quizzes, sample tastings, practical demonstrations and of course, humour to ensure attendees will remember the workshop for as long as possible after they leave. If you have an on-site catering provider, it’s worth asking them to provide food tasters aligned with the theme (your workshop provider should be able to discuss ingredients and recipes with them )
- It should be focused on practical changes
A workplace nutrition workshop shouldn’t be delivered like a lecture – it should be firmly placed in the context of working life and made relevant to the workforce attending. A competent workplace nutritionist will bring in relevant examples, and address the specific challenges the audience is dealing with. They will share practical meal ideas and encourage participants to set personal objectives and think through the steps they will take to make these happen. Which barriers would they need to overcome? How will they stock up on new ingredients? How will they make the time to change some of their habits?
And it’s never about changing everything in one go – an experienced corporate nutritionist will set achievable expectations. If a participant starts practising just one new habit as a result of your nutrition workshop, this is a great result!
5. Promoting your nutrition workshop
Many wellbeing managers we’ve worked with are understandably concerned that the workshops the company is paying for are going to be well attended and a worthwhile investment. This is why we recommend starting to promote the workshop as early as possible (ideally at least 3 weeks) and provide support to promote the session, including promotional posters, email invitation templates and online booking pages.
By far the most powerful ingredient for boosting attendance is the personal touch: having conversations and asking if people are planning to attend can be very valuable in uncovering and addressing things that might be holding people back: are they worried about taking the time away from their workstation? Do they fear what they might hear at the workshop (which might bring into focus changes they need to make but are afraid to)? Having managers and members of the senior leadership team promote and attend the workshop also sends a powerful message that the company is fully committed in the initiative and that it’s worth taking seriously.
6. After the workshop
It’s important to provide some continuity after the workshop to support participants to keep going with the objectives they might have set themselves. We offer the option of receiving a recipe booklet by email following the session, filled with recipes mentioned during the workshop and a shopping list.
We use feedback forms to gather any useful feedback but also gauge interest in further topics, which can then help the employer develop their programme in a direction that will be helpful to employees.
7. Why it’s worth investing in an established wellbeing provider
How do you know what to look for when you choose a facilitator to run your workshop? Without knowledge of the nutrition industry, the price can seem to be the only differentiator, so why not simply go with the lowest?
There are several considerations to bear in mind here, which might mean that (as in most areas) cheapest is not always best when it comes to nutrition workshops. A poorly delivered nutrition workshop can be memorable for all the wrong reasons and actually set back your wellbeing strategy. Here are some questions to ask:
– Is your facilitator qualified in nutrition and registered with a recognised professional body (such as BANT of AfN)?
– Are they an experienced workplace nutritionist (trained to present, and deliver an engaging, credible session geared to motivating behaviour change in the context of work?
– Can your provider offer you a longer-term programme of content that’s well researched and has been tried and tested across different workplaces?
– Does your provider have a team of workplace nutritionists who can cover different locations (if you are catering for different sites) and provide a backup in an emergency?
– Can your provider offer you all the tools you need to promote the workshop and provide follow up resources which look professional and engaging?
Taking the next steps
If you’re looking to organise your next corporate nutrition workshop or build a programme of workshops, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be happy to talk through the best approach with you without any obligation. In the meantime, why not sign up to receive our FREE nutrition toolkit? It includes some of our most popular printable posters and a helpful calendar of health campaigns to start planning your workshop programme.