The office break room is more than just a place to get away from work for a few minutes. It is where employees go to unwind, share a lunchtime conversation and snag some free food that somebody brought in. But if that free food is not healthy or the break room is grungy, the breakroom experience can be a very drab and unhealthy one. Promoting healthy habits in the break room is a way to increase employee productivity and decrease health insurance costs.
- Observe proper food handling and storage practices. One of the best parts of any break room is when somebody brings in treats to share or there is leftover food from a large meeting or conference. Though the food may be tasty, and free, some foods may harbor harmful bacteria. If certain foods, like meat, egg and dairy products, sit out for more than two hours, they will need to be thrown out because the foods can contain high levels of pathogens. Any employees handling the food should wash their hands ahead of time to make sure that they do not contaminate the food with dirty hands.
- Clean the break room daily. Several break rooms have a “self-cleaning” policy, meaning employees clean up after themselves. However, it never hurts to bring in a professional cleaning crew or have the building maintenance staff come though and mop the floors, take out the trash and clean up any spills that careless employees do not take wipe up. This will keep rodents and other pests from moving in. »Learn More
- Provide healthy snacks. Working in an office can be brutal on the waistline, and a daily supply of doughnuts and salty vending snacks does not help. In order to promote a healthy diet, your break room can have a “healthy foods only” policy that requires people to only bring in healthy foods to share, like a fruit basket instead of doughnuts. Also, filling the vending machine with healthy snack bars instead of fat-laden potato chips will help keep the waistlines and health insurance costs under control. »Learn More
- Make sure the refrigerator is up to the task. Offices that have a refrigerator in the break room encourage employees to bring their meals from home, which is healthier and cheaper than eating out every day. However, if the refrigerator is too small to accommodate all of those lunches, it will not maintain a safe holding temperature. The refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Place a refrigerator/freezer thermometer in the cabinet to monitor the temperature. If you find that the unit is unable to maintain the proper temperature, you may need to invest in a more powerful commercial refrigerator.
- Post health information on the bulletin board. The break room’s bulletin board is a great place to post information on healthy foods and fitness classes that are in the area. You can also use this space to post maps of surrounding trail systems, if any exist. If there are no trails close by, you can map out a few walking routes on your own and put them up, with distances marked, to encourage employees to take a short walk during their lunch hour.