Sweetest thing in office should be you: Study

Employers should outlaw sugar, encourage mental health breaks and send employees on a walk around the block if they want to get the best out of their workers, a study recommends.

The study, which is the result of surveys, research and interviews at offices around Australia makes five recommendations for improving workplace output.

But a workplace health expert has warned that a sugar prohibition would not be a cure-all for the problems affecting workers.

The study conducted by @Workspaces recommended:

CUTTING sugar from the office tea room.

IMPLEMENT mental health breaks during the word day.

INSTALL a privacy room to provide relief from the public nature of open plan offices.

SEND staff around the block for a walk by starting up a steps program with a daily or weekly minimum.

REMOVE all plastic utensils and make the office more environmentally friendly.

Company founder Mariska Folley said a healthy lifestyle was linked to a productive work output.

"It all comes down to health," Ms Folley said.

"It affects all aspects of life if you are unbalanced and lifestyle and workplace are large contributors to that.

"Cutting out sugar in the workplace helps workers achieve a healthier lifestyle. It is as simple as removing vending machines and sugar from the break room and replacing it with honey and bowls and fruit."

The introduction of mental health breaks and privacy rooms is vital to addressing mental health issues caused by office work.

"Offices foster a particular mindset, being surrounded by people working hard can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety," Ms Folley said.

"It is a mindset which needs to be watched and keeping a healthy lifestyle can help address it."

University of Technology Sydney work health and stress expert Dr Carolyn Johns said demonising sugar alone was not a remedy for workplace woes.

"While a workplace could replace sugar I would suggest that sugar alone is unlikely to be the sole contributor to employee stress," Dr Johns said.

"Organisations therefore need to look more broadly at workplace practices and culture with a view to mitigate the worst effects stress through carefully designed workplace practices; merely outlawing sugar is not going to solve workplace stress."

Dr Johns said that the layout of offices was a factor in workplace stress and wellness.

"It is commonly assumed that open-plan office layouts facilitate communication and interaction between workers, promoting workplace satisfaction and teamwork effectiveness," Dr Johns said.

"But it also widely acknowledged that they are more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy.

"Privacy rooms could form part of a broader wellness culture, playing an important role as support spaces for confidential or private conversations."

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