Offering free fruit at work has got a bad press of late in the employee wellbeing field. Many in the sector are quick to point out that businesses need to do more than just provide fruit (we agree) and the British Safety Council made this point by titling its recent report – ‘Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work’.

However we are here to defend workplace fruit – bananas, apples, pears, berries and pineapples, we’ve got your back!

Let’s look at some benefits…… It’s an obvious one but providing free fruit at work gently encourages your staff to make healthy food choices. The financial outlay depends on the number of staff you have – and how much they like fruit. However per ten employees, it should cost no more than £17-18 to top up the bowl twice a week, if you buy from a reasonably-priced supermarket or a local greengrocer.

Fruit provides numerous benefits. If staff switch to fruit from sugary snacks, they may experience more sustained energy throughout the day. Other health benefits of fruit are: 

  • It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium
  • Fruit provides a great source of fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce the risk of bowel cancer
  • Eating fruit regularly can help to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer
  • Fruit (and veg) contribute to a healthy, balanced diet and taste great
    (Source: NHS Live Well)
Our clients got fruity 

Adding a fruit bowl was a simple part of a workplace wellbeing policy we developed for Retail IT in 2018. This element went down well with staff with many switching from less healthy snacks to the regularly refreshed bowl of apples, bananas, oranges and pears (all of which are sourced from a local greengrocer, providing a little financial boost to the local economy). The healthy eating message was reinforced with posters in staff areas offering healthy eating advice.

Additionally, a recent survey carried out by British Summer Fruits, which polled 2,000 employees in the UK, has shown more than half think their mood, productivity and stress levels would be enhanced if they were provided with healthy snacks, such as free fruit at work, by their employers.

The research also found:

  • 81% of respondents find sugary snacks are provided for meetings, with 48% being offered biscuits during meetings compared to 8% who have access to fresh fruit in meetings
  • 50% of respondents eat unhealthily when they are stressed at work, while 55% feel in a better mood at work when they eat healthily
  • 33% of respondents snack during meetings only because the food is in front of them

Based on the above, providing free fruit at work is a simple, cost effective way to help boost employee wellbeing and could be a small part of an overall employee wellbeing plan. We agree with the aforementioned critics – it’s not enough in isolation but it can be a good start and something staff will appreciate. And an often overlooked positive is that its helps employees’ financial wellbeing. If they were spending a couple of pounds a day on snacks and the fruit means they no longer do this, that can amount to a considerable saving over the course of the year. 

We suggest considering how else to encourage employees to eat healthily. For example, encourage staff to share healthy recipes, organise a recipe collection, or hold team lunches occasionally with employees bringing a healthy dish to share.