A motivated employee is a productive employee, and so companies stock their human resources arsenals with all sorts of motivational tools: raises, bonuses, sales contests, peer recognition programs and gift card giveaways, for starters.

Research shows that when it comes to improving productivity, however, any figurative carrot on a stick just might rank below an actual carrot — or spinach, kale, fresh fruit, whole grains or lean meats. A healthy diet promotes good health, and employee wellness is tied so closely to worker efficiency that 77 percent of lost productivity is attributable to health-related issues, according to a recent study.

Furthermore, employees who did not regularly eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables were 66 percent more likely than healthy eaters to say they had experienced a decrease in productivity.

Exercise, getting enough sleep and whether a worker smokes also are key factors that determine whether an employee is bringing his or her “A” game to work on an everyday basis. Employees look to their employers for help in all of these areas, with 87 percent saying health and wellness offerings are a consideration when they are deciding where to work.

Businesses have a lot at stake, too. Improvements in employee health and fewer medical claims can result in average savings from $3.27 to $5.81 for every $1 invested in wellness, other studies concluded.

The link between health and productivity gives employers the power to get more out of workers by helping them be as healthy as possible. Encouraging physical activity, supplying healthy snacks, and hosting company lunches with a caterer that can deliver healthy menu items are all practices that can generate positive impacts — and all have a social aspect that can boost morale as well. With snacks and company lunches, hunger can also be knocked out as a productivity-killing distraction.

The accompanying infographic includes a look at the numbers measuring the connection between health and productivity, along with tips on how to stay healthy at work.

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