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Calling all employers looking to improve staff health & wellbeing

3rd Oct 2018

BIT is looking for a partner organisation to take part in a new cutting-edge research project designed to improve employee health and wellbeing. This project is part of BIT’s ongoing collaboration with UCL and is free for organisations to take part in.

Our idea

When considering contexts in which health behaviours can be improved via nudges, the modern day workplace is a good place to start. Why? Firstly, a huge number of people spend their day sitting relatively inactive at their desks. Additionally, it is estimated that about one-third of energy is consumed in the workplace, with employees eating, on average, at least one meal and one snack at the office. Consequently, the workplace offers employers a unique opportunity to positively influence people’s health behaviours.

This is why BIT has decided to seek out a partner organisation who meets the following criteria;

  • has a canteen (or other eatery) that uses a cashless payment system
  • has 500+ employees
  • is interested in improving employee health

What do we want to do?

Making simple swaps such as trading crisps for popcorn or full-fat soft drinks for their diet equivalents can make it surprisingly easy to reduce our calorie consumption because it means that we don’t have to fully forego elements of our diets that we enjoy.

However, research indicates that in the moment, many of us still choose the (slightly) more attractive, (much) less healthy version – due to a phenomenon behavioural scientists call present bias i.e. decisions we make in the moment may not reflect our best selves. (Think about how different your trolley looks when you shop on an empty vs full stomach). Thus, timing is of the essence in improving eating habits.

Pre-ordering our lunch, perhaps just after breakfast or at the start of the working day, might help us to make choices that are more aligned with our best selves because present bias is less likely to derail us. During the pre-ordering process, we might be more willing to accept healthy swap suggestions because we are not at the mercy of hunger pangs or the sight and smell of tempting foods in the moment. BIT intends to investigate this with its partner organisation.

What’s in it for you?

A healthy workforce is a happier, more productive workforce. There is compelling evidence to suggest that the costs associated with sickness absence, presenteeism and staff turnover can be significantly reduced by making an up-front investment in workplace health initiatives. We also know that swaps that prompt us to opt for healthier alternatives are a promising way to reduce calorie intake without reducing canteen revenue. Finally, pre-ordering has been shown to reduce food waste, making it a win-win initiative.

If you’d like to get involved, please contact


Michael Sanders

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Sarah Breathnach