Supporting employers to adopt and expand workforce nutrition programmes
With 58% of the world’s population spending one third of their time at work during their adult life, there is clear opportunity to use the workplace to improve nutritional status and tackle poor diets, now the biggest cause of ill health in every country. In fact, one in three people around the world are malnourished, and it impacts all people across income groups, job types and exists from farm to consumers.
Today’s consumer goods retailers and brands are important employers within communities around the world, so there is a clear case for our industry to play an active role in supporting employees to live healthier. However, there are shortcomings with current workplace programmes. For example, only a small percent of the global workforce who work in corporate offices in high income countries have access to healthy food options at work and most employers in supply chains provide food to meet a regulatory requirement; and is not necessarily nutritious.
Beyond employee health, we also know that workplace nutrition and health programmes can have significant benefits for employees, employers and the society. At an organisational-level, healthy employees can lead to reduced absenteeism, enhanced productivity, lower rates of accidents and mistakes, greater job satisfaction and financial benefits. And, at the macro-level, we see healthy employees having a positive impact on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth).
The workplace is an optimal point of intervention to contribute to the improved health and wellbeing of individuals, and through the Workforce Nutrition Alliance, co-founded by the CGF and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), organisations are coming together to support employers to adopt workforce nutrition programmes. Its goal is to positively impact three million employees in their organisations and supply chains by 2025.
The Alliance is a group of business associations and technical experts committed to improving health and wellbeing of employees including nutrition and engage the dialogue in their supply chains. The Workforce Nutrition Alliance is also aligned with the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2020.
Workforce nutrition programmes are a set of interventions that work through the existing structures of the workplace to address fundamental aspects of health amongst employees and/or supply chain workers. Ideally, these programmes aim to create improved access to – and demand for – safe and nutritious food, with the aim of changing employees’ behaviours around food consumption, and to improve their health and wellbeing. Breastfeeding support programmes are included in this definition.
However, our members understand that employers face various challenges in implementing workforce nutrition programmes at scale. These challenges include lack of awareness, limited incentive, high resource requirement and complex implementation. Through the Workforce Nutrition Alliance, we aim to demonstrate value and simplify the implementation process to help employers overcome these challenges by taking employers on a journey. This journey will include a self-assessment of current situation, setting targets and making commitments, developing a plan to meet the targets, accessing implementation support, monitoring and reporting on impact, and reaping the rewards.