As a Nutritionist, I am convinced that good nutrition, along with physical activity, is one of the most critical drivers of good health and wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization, consuming a healthy diet throughout one’s lifespan helps to prevent malnutrition in all its forms, as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases. However, shifting eating habits remains a challenge for many people in communities across the globe. While people often know what is best for them, they may not always make the healthiest choices.
How people eat is not always only about personal choice, it is also determined by culture, education, access, and economy. In addition, the food choices that people make are determined by their professions and the places they work. Each workplace comes with its own unique culture and its own access to food and meals for employees. Employers need to promote the wellbeing of their employees, and that includes the nutritional value of the food and meals available in the workplace.
At Grupo Bimbo, we understand that integrating health and wellbeing into the company’s strategy, as well as relevant implementation tools, are key to healthy business operations. Being a part of The Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) Coalition, and learning from their Workforce Nutrition Alliance in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), aligns with our own internal policies of caring for our employees. Our Grupo Bimbo Wellness Model provides guidelines for all our operations to both promote wellbeing and manage physical and psycho-social risks in the workplace. Our Correct Food initiative, for example, was established to guide our employees in maintaining a healthy diet and improving their nutrition by providing healthy food choices across our sites.
To achieve this, we rolled out a series of actions and efforts, including the Grupo Bimbo Healthy Canteens programme to provide healthy food options for employees across our food service sites. As part of this, nutritional training was offered to management teams and canteen menu reviews were undertaken. More specifically, a checklist was developed to benchmark the nutrition standard to be reached across Grupo Bimbo’s canteen menus, and an online training module was developed and made available for the programme leads through the Grupo Bimbo Virtual University. The learnings from these trainings were applied to review and build canteen menus with high nutritional value with the support of nutritionists. These company efforts for nutrition training were welcomed by our employees who embraced the processes and changes. Team success was recognised and rewarded, which was essential to building and strengthening the culture of wellbeing. We also ensure that regular audits occur throughout the year to maintain the nutritional standards across our canteens.
In addition, nutritional counselling is offered to employees and their families, who also can benefit from a series of online training courses outlining the key principles of maintaining a good diet. Through this effort, we aim to help our employees increase their fibre, fruit and vegetable consumption and balance their intake of high-fat meals, sugar, and salt. We also aim to promote increased water intake and demonstrate variety in healthy food options.
Naturally, the company faced some challenges along the implementation of the wellbeing initiative. Cost, for example, was an important factor to consider in rolling out the programmes. On the onset, there were preconceptions about healthier menus costing more and likely to be accepted less. Training was critical to overcome this, and we learned that health must be of value for the company and embedded in the business. Furthermore, while the initiative was for the most part embraced, there were some instances of resistance to change. To tackle this, we learned that taking small steps is essential and including employees in the process so that they feel part of the programme is key.
Some of the key learnings from our workforce nutrition programmes include:
- Employee wellbeing is critical and there is significant value in having workforce nutrition at the core of business agendas.
- Cost should be seen as an investment that bears fruit in the long-term.
- All companies can begin with small steps that will lead to lasting change.
- Involving employees in the process is important so that they can own the process of change.
- Involving our employees’ families in the journey is vital to make a greater impact.
The CGF and the GAIN’s Workforce Nutrition Alliance facilitates this process for companies across the globe by providing free tools and resources to help enhance your workforce nutrition programme. Visit the website to learn more and be a part of the industry leaders driving positive change for the health and wellbeing of employees today.