Q: What issue was facing your organisation?
Employee health checks across four of our key sites in 2013 revealed that a significant percentage of our employees were classified as overweight or obese. This was particularly apparent in the 35+ years demographic. We started to look at a number of initiatives in response to this and one was to work more closely with our numerous external catering partners to try and offer healthier – but affordable – nutritional options for employees.
Q: What action did your organisation take?
The first action was to engage with the catering companies at a local level to ask them to improve promotion of healthier food options, offer more variety but to try and keep costs to a minimum.
One smaller site catering partner got the ball rolling by looking at subtle ways of reducing fat and calorie content of food e.g. replacing butter with low fat margarine, air frying chips instead of deep fat frying. This partner was recognised by the local health authority for implementing these strategies and awarded a Silver Award for their efforts.
One of our bigger sites linked in with the catering team and asked them to use the company Health and Wellbeing branding to advertise salads and more healthy food options. In addition there was a stand in the cafeteria area that highlighted what was in the food provided and guidance on nutritional value i.e. sugar and salt contents. They also offered temporary discounts on the fruit and salad options whilst increasing the prices on the fattier foods to try and encourage a change in employee eating behaviour.
At another major site, the catering company hired a new chef who created a new salad bar range. From Jan’15, they have agreed to use the Health and Wellbeing logo to highlight the healthy options and run spot promotions to include salads as part of the meal deal options (currently only sandwiches, crisps and fruit) which will make them more affordable for employees.
All sites are starting to promote foods with the RI’s so employees can make more of an informed choice on what they’re purchasing and also regularly display Government nutritional advice leaflets and posters promoting the ‘5-a-day’ campaign.
We have also ensured the continuation of fresh fruit drops every Monday at two sites.
Q: What has been the impact of implementing health interventions?
We are in the process of conducting repeat annual employee health checks across our four key sites and have already discovered at 1 site there has been a 15% reduction of employees tested who were classified as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’. Absence across the whole company is down compared to the same time last year and absence due to MSD has also reduced by 16% when compared to Nov/Dec 2013.