Grupo Bimbo, the international baking company with a presence in 34 countries, has long positioned itself as a leader in the food industry, not only in sales but also in its approach to employee wellness. The company, which operates 204 bakeries worldwide and employs over 139000 individuals, has made notable strides in integrating comprehensive health and wellness strategies into its corporate structure.
We spoke to Grupo Bimbo’s Global Safety and Wellness Supervisor, Tamara Sanchez, about their workforce nutrition programme and participation in the Masterclass programme1.
A strategic shift in workplace wellness
As part of Grupo Bimbo’s philosophy to build a sustainable, productive, and humane company, comes their commitment to “value the person”, says Sanchez.
This has guided the development of a global wellness strategy that incorporates nutrition, physical activity, occupational health, and work-life balance. Sanchez explains that in 2022, their strategy was further refined to include an additional “work-life” pillar, a move that aligns with global trends towards holistic employee wellness programs. This refinement wasn’t about introducing new concepts but rather about highlighting and formalizing practices that have always been integral to our operations. By formally acknowledging actions such as fostering a positive work environment, ensuring clean and well-equipped work facilities (including ergonomic workstations and robust ventilation systems), and other elements that contribute to a supportive atmosphere, Grupo Bimbo reinforces their commitment to these areas. This approach recognizes and elevates the importance of these practices, demonstrating the company’s ongoing dedication to creating environments where associates can excel and feel valued in their workplace settings.
“Though these actions had always been part of the company, they weren’t truly acknowledged or visibly recognised as efforts made,” says Sanchez.
Cultivating a culture of health
This renewed commitment set off a series of innovative interventions to instil a culture of health. According to Sanchez, Grupo Bimbo’s efforts now include initiatives such as the “Well-being Leaders” series, which aims to engage management in leading wellness practices. She says the series has addressed various aspects of employee well-being, from mental health to the workplace climate, reflecting a growing recognition of these factors’ impact on overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
Nutrition education through internal ‘university’
The company has also launched various educational campaigns to provide employees with information essential to making informed dietary choices. Workshops, talks, and the internally developed “GB University” serve as platforms for educating employees on nutrition, underscoring the significance of informed food choices in preventing lifestyle-related diseases.
Says Sanchez: “Within the GB University, a wellness school offers various nutrition-related courses such as food groups, healthy combinations, portion control, family nutrition, and chronic degenerative diseases associated with diet, including diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and more.”
Certification and customization challenges
In its pursuit of a healthy workplace, Grupo Bimbo has implemented a certification system for its canteens across the world. The 40-point checklist used to assess and certify these facilities focuses on the availability of fresh, wholesome food options.
Global implementation however is not without difficulties. Sanchez says that expanding a nutrition program globally presents challenges in adapting menus to local tastes, translating materials, and ensuring alignment with associate needs. “Overcoming these hurdles involves meticulous menu planning to cater to diverse regional preferences, effective translation of educational materials, and ongoing assessments to tailor programs to meet the unique requirements of associates across various locations. including adapting menus to local tastes and translating educational materials into multiple languages.”
These obstacles, Sanchez assures, are reflective of the complexities businesses face when scaling health initiatives across diverse cultures and regional preferences, and should not be discouraging.
Collaborative efforts to improve nutrition
The organisation’s decision to engage with the Workforce Nutrition Alliance and its participation in the related Masterclass sessions illustrated the company’s commitment to enhancing its health programs, says Sanchez. “We are dedicated to ensuring an all-encompassing and effective healthy dining program for associates.”
She says through their participation they aimed to identify potential areas for improvement, ensuring the thoroughness and efficacy of our existing program. “Consequently, this engagement yielded invaluable resources and innovative insights to further enrich and fortify ongoing initiatives.”
Recommendations for organizations starting a workforce nutrition program
For Sanchez, the Masterclass experience was a positive one. According to her, the resources shared in the programme provided invaluable tools and insights that played a pivotal role in refining and strengthening Grupo Bimbo’s existing initiatives. “It offered diverse perspectives and best practices, significantly enriching our company’s nutrition program.”
For organisations initiating a workforce nutrition program, Sanchez recommends prioritising associate well-being, and establishing a multi-pillar approach that includes education, healthy food provision, physical activity, and work-life balance are foundational.
“Tailoring initiatives to local contexts, utilising diverse communication channels, and employing continuous evaluation and evolution based on feedback and emerging trends are imperative to fostering a culture of health and well-being among associates.”
As companies across the globe navigate this shift towards improved employee wellness, the strategies employed by Grupo Bimbo may serve as a valuable reference point for integrating health into the fabric of corporate culture.
 The Workforce Nutrition Masterclass is a collaborative initiative of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). It is designed to support organisations with the planning, development and implementation of workforce nutrition programmes. The curriculum covers Breastfeeding at Work, Healthy food at Work, Nutrition Education and Nutrition-focused Health Checks, in addition to guiding participants in the practical application of such initiatives. During the Masterclass, participants receive various tools and resources to enhance the live virtual training sessions, delivered over 12 weeks. The next one kicks off on 27 March 2024. Enquire or book your spot today.