Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
As we are still in the 12 days of Christmas it perhaps is not too late still to remember the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge. On the first day back at work for most people after an undoubtedly overindulgent Christmas and New Year break the Faculty of Dental Surgery hits the headlines with a call to end the “workplace cake culture”. Cut out the birthday cake in other words.
Is it the end for cakes in the office?
The timing of the report is, of course, understandable, because there will be many of us who have loosened our belts over the last few days and are now regretting having eaten quite so much Christmas pudding, biscuits and chocolate. January is full of good intentions, new gym memberships and Nutri Bullets being worked to death as people swap cake for kale, but we all know it does not last long. By the end of January we will all be desperate for a jam doughnut with our elevenses or a slice of Colin the Caterpillar (chocolate log roll with a cheery chappy face, found in Sainsbury’s if you’re not acquainted) with our afternoon tea courtesy of whoever happens to be celebrating their birthday that week. As a firm we have also made no secret of the fact that our people like to bake cakes as well as eat them.
Cutting out cake in January is one thing, but forever? No more cake in the office? Ever? Wibble. We all know that we should eat more healthily, in the same way that we know we should not drink as much as we do or that we should drive more slowly, but we do not do it. Repeated dire warnings of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other dreadful illnesses seem to make little headway. There is no denying the importance of the message but what will it take to make workers take note?
Incentivise not demonise
The human psyche being what it is, we need to be incentivised to give up cake. A simple ban will not work and probably risks industrial action. But how can us office-based sugar junkies give up our cake fix? What some people in this office have done in the past is to buy fruit in as well as cakes for those who are more health-conscious. That has been partially successful but then as every “Lean warrior” knows, fruit contains sugar as well and there is no such thing as “free calories”. Put a slice of carrot cake next to a slice of carrot and which is more likely to get eaten?
So what does a business do to try and encourage people to eat more healthily? Alternatives such as going to the pub instead do not offer any health advantages and many businesses do not wish to encourage staff to drink whilst at work in any event. Bring a smoothie to work? I cannot see a culture developing of “super green smoothies” to be consumed on birthdays to ever take off, not least because of the expense and effort it would take to make a kale, avocado, carrot and apple smoothie for more than three people. Here’s my suggestion: how about donating the money that would have been spent on cakes and biscuits to a good cause instead? Virtuous for sure but will those feelings of virtuosity outweigh a good old sugar rush?