This post, written by C3’s Ina Andersson, is based on a piece of work carried out by C3 for The Health Foundation in 2016, creating case studies showcasing workplace health initiatives across a range of companies and organisations. We’ll be sharing these case studies over the next few months through our blog.
As part of its employee wellness strategy, Nestlé UK&I offers free health checks to all its employees through its delivery partners, Nuffield Health. Clinicians will come on-site to carry out the checks, which takes into account the employee’s family history, current health and aims for the future. The checks encourage individual behaviour change and the anonymous health data collected is used to create targeted interventions. The programme is being independently evaluated by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH).
As a big global food manufacturer, Nestlé is very aware of the public-health issues that the population are facing, in particular type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Nestlé recognises that it is in a unique positon as an employer to help its own employees tackle these problems through offering them health and wellbeing initiatives in the workplace. Nestlé’s philosophy is that healthy and fulfilled employees are also the most productive.
Nestlé has a holistic health and wellbeing strategy, which encompasses mental as well as physical health. The main focus for this case study is Nestlé’s free health checks that it offers to all employees.
Every Nestlé member of staff can access a 45-minute, one-to-one health assessment with a clinician from Nuffield Health. The assessment is drawn up as a coaching session, it focuses on the individual, lifestyle factors and behaviours.
All Nestlé offices and factories; the health checks are held on-site during working hours.
The plan is to reach all 8,000 Nestlé UK employees in 3 years. Nuffield Health is the external delivery partner.
The health checks launched in February 2015 and will be ongoing for at least three years from that date.
Nestlé tries to facilitate personal behaviour change on its programme and provide targeted interventions. Before each health assessment is carried out, the employee fills out an extensive questionnaire about his/her own health, as well as family history. The clinician will look this over before the assessment. All standard measurements, such as body mass index and blood pressure, will be carried out by the clinician and a health action plan will be developed together with the employee. If there is a particular area on which the employee would like to focus, this is taken into consideration. The health action plan is given to the employee along with a leaflet with some information. Should the employee’s health be assessed as ‘critical’ they will be referred straight to a GP in the NHS. Once this visit is done, the Nuffield Health clinician catches up with the employee on any improvements, changes or questions that they might have. Data from the health assessments is collected on a site-level basis, but Nestlé has only access to aggregated, anonymous data and not anyone’s personal health records.
Staff get time off to attend health checks and working evenings or weekends is not a barrier, as it is up to employees to set a time that is convenient. The clinician comes to the site and employees can sign up for a time slot. If a site becomes oversubscribed, Nuffield Health will book a second visit.
Since sedentary behaviour is a problem among some of the workforce, Nestlé also offers staff reduced-cost membership with a Nuffield Health gym. There is a gym on-site at the Nestlé head office in Gatwick, and free after-work exercise classes and lunchtime walks are offered at a number of sites. The head office has introduced standing desks and give out information about five-minute desk exercises employees can do during the day. As for nutrition, Nestlé is working closely with its catering provider to serve healthy options in its staff canteens, and training in the basics of nutrition is offered to all employees.
Nestlé also has Wellness Champions who have gone on training with the RSPH. There is one champion per site and each is trained in the basics on health, but also on how to take the site-level data collected from the health assessments and translate this into suitable, targeted interventions. One example is of a site where it emerged staff were especially dehydrated, despite free water being available. It transpired that water dispensers were located in areas through which staff did not pass very often. Simply changing the location of the dispensers reminded employees to drink and improved hydration.
In September 2016, 18 months after the individual health checks launched, Nestlé looked at the first set of site-level data in order to create targeted interventions. So far, there has been a 75 per cent uptake across all sites.
Nestlé is keen to make sure it is providing employees with initiatives that work. After being awarded the RSPH’s Health and Wellbeing Award in 2015, a partnership was established for the RSPH to act as an independent evaluator of Nestlé’s programme. The evaluation will be ongoing for three years from 2016, it will focus on the individual health checks and the results will be taken into consideration in further programme development.
One of the main learnings for Nestlé so far has been that it is crucial to have buy-in from senior management. This is not only the very top, but also senior managers on-site at for example factories. These managers must promote the programme, lead by example, sign up for health checks themselves and then talk about it. This creates trust and credibility amongst other employees.
Nestlé has also learned that it is very important to let employees know that the company does not have access to individual’s personal health information, but only to aggregated, anonymous data so that health initiatives can be tailored to specific sites. Employees must also have trust in Nuffield Health as a provider and know that whatever they disclose will not be used against them or made available to Nestlé.
The impact evaluation by the RSPH will inform the future strategy going forward in terms of ensuring the effectiveness of health and productivity improvements, as well as provide a basis for wider analysis of the costs and benefits of such programmes for businesses and the wider economy.
Mental health is a focus for 2017. Line managers have gone through a training programme on mental health helping to raise awareness and increase our capabilities to spot as well as manage and resolve mental health concerns and illness early on. Employees also have access to an online resilience toolkit, including information on how to have ‘regular good days at work’, and themes days and events are focused on mental health throughout the year.
Want to read more about our work with Nestlé? Visit our Healthy Communities page.