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Workplace Trends: Sugar Shaming Your Employees

Between the plate of home-made cookies your coworker brought to work this morning and the afternoon sheet cake to celebrate this month's birthdays, sugar can be as plentiful in many workplaces as staples and paper clips.

But now, any manager worth his or her salt is beginning to say "no" to sugar at work! Because obesity problem. "Sugar shaming" is apparently all the rage, according to a WSJ article. But is sugar shaming only going to leave employees in a rage?

No More Sugar At Work?
Yes, we could all cut back on sugary snacks. We could skip the workplace birthday cake, and politely decline the coworkers who offer us a(nother) homemade chocolate chip cookie. If there's a will, there's a way, as they say, to go sugar free.

But do we really need a managerial eating edict to shame us into consuming less sugar? We already have the health-conscious coworker trying to shame us for not going gluten free, and for not Soul Cycling. Do we really need management jumping into the creamy nougat center of this touchy workplace issue, too?

Having management announce, "Due to your incessant love of sugary snacks, we have decided to cut all of you off. No more vending machines, no more sugar at work," is like somebody handing us a packet of organic carrot slices on Halloween. It's like having Mr. Wonka tell us we broke the rules by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks and bumping into the ceiling, which will need to be washed, and sterilized. Good day, you lose!

Management might view sugar shaming as a good deed in a weary, obese world, but is it? I'm not sure how many licks it takes to get to the center of this management-coated problem, but I do know one thing: we need to treat each other like adults at work. And that means trusting each other to manage our own food intake, even when we're not always great at it. Our manager isn't our mommy.

Sugar, We're Going Down
Managers who try to control employees' sugar consumption could end up with a biggie-sized morale problem at work. Employees will think: "My boss not only makes me stay late, she got rid of the monthly birthday cakes, too. That's just weird, and mean." Next, they will think: "I ought to send my resume out." You know, to companies that won't care if they eat a few Swedish Fish here and there while typing. Companies that are firmly in the Libertarian camp when it comes to their employees' licorice consumption.


There are also a few medical concerns here. If you have a condition such as hypoglycemia, then you need to eat high-sugar foods (such as candy) throughout the day to get your levels back into the proper range. If someone with this health issue doesn't have access to sugar snacks when they need them, then they can begin to seem intoxicated. Slurring their words, stumbling, even slipping into a seizure.

So there are employees who might have very good reasons to eat sugar at work.

Managers, instead of sugar-shaming your staff and inviting these problems, why don't you go work out your frustrations on the running trail, or at the gym, and leave your employees' food habits alone? Your employees don't warn you about the effects of over-exercising, because they know it's none of their business. Make their sugar intake none of your business, too.


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