Kick-starting workforce nutrition: Workforce Nutrition Alliance will launch a new programme for companies in May 2022


The Workforce Nutrition Alliance (WNA) will launch a new comprehensive three-step programme to help kick-start Workforce Nutrition (WFN) in international companies.

The first step, two one-hour webinars called “Fast Track for Leaders”, offer executives the essentials for creating an effective WFN strategy and the necessary tools for successful implementation across their organisation. The second element, the “Roadmap to Implementation”, is a one-hour online session that provides worksite managers with a chance to become familiar with WFN and its implementation at their worksites. Finally, in the “Workforce Nutrition Masterclass”, which spans 3 months and is done virtually, HR professionals receive practical support from experts and learn from peers to create and implement a workforce nutrition programme at their respective worksites.

As a first step in kickstarting this new programme, HR and sustainability executives from multinational companies met for a webinar on Wednesday 9 March 2022, organised by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) and co-hosted by the Workforce Nutrition Alliance (WNA).

Participants from ten countries discussed how companies can improve their score on the WBA’s next Food and Agriculture Benchmark, with workforce nutrition being an important component. The benchmark, introduced last year, assesses 350 leading international corporations on key issues underpinning the food systems transformation agenda. The next edition is scheduled for 2023.

In her opening remarks, Viktoria de Bourbon de Parme, Food and Agriculture Transformation Lead at WBA, said: “There is, of course, plenty of room for improvement for the benchmarked 350 food and agriculture companies: only 25% implemented one or two of four WFN categories.”

Scoring better on the benchmark requires implementing at least two of the four WFN programme categories, providing more qualitative evidence about healthy food offerings, increasing the number/percentage of cafeterias providing healthy options and setting time-bound targets to improve food offerings. The four categories are healthy food at work, nutrition education, nutrition-focused health checks and breastfeeding support.

Yes, it is viable! Olam Food Ingredients brings workforce nutrition to employees globally

The webinar’s keynote speaker was Nikhil Chaudhary, Nuts Manager at ofi Vietnam, part of Olam Food Ingredients. He shared his experience of introducing WFN at worksites across Viet Nam.

In 2021, Olam began the roll-out of the WFN Scorecard to assess workplace nutrition programmes, to help tackle issues related to malnutrition across workplaces globally.

Chaudhary said: “Last year, as part of our Cashew Trail sustainability programme, ofi’s Cashew set a bold target that, by 2030, 100% of the workforce will have access to nutrition programmes.”

He explained that the ofi Vietnam nuts team considers improving breastfeeding support to be critical, so they launched Olam Care in 2021. It is a programme aimed at improving conditions for women to breastfeed through continuous awareness raising, expert assistance, counselling sessions and lactation-friendly workplaces across all Vietnam ofi worksites. This initiative has had a positive impact on the lives of more than 2,500 female employees and their families.

Chaudhary said: “We are now partnering with NGO Alive & Thrive to develop and implement workplace lactation support programmes in twelve worksites across Vietnam.”

Four pillars as a foundation to benefit from a successful workforce nutrition programme 

Mirjam Kneepkens, who leads the Technical Support Programme of the Workforce Nutrition Alliance, highlighted four steps for the planning and implementation of a successful workforce nutrition programme:

  1. Identifying opportunities through the self-assessment scorecard and setting enhancement targets
  2. Integrating workforce nutrition KPIs in existing monitoring systems to track and report progress
  3. Empowering worksites to kickstart tailored workforce nutrition programmes
  4. Aligning with international benchmarks, such as those developed by the World Benchmark Alliance or the Access To Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), which help to manage performance and progress

Bärbel Weiligmann, Senior Advisor Workforce Nutrition at GAIN, concluded, “Workforce nutrition has to be an essential tool for all companies that understand their responsibility to look after their first customers, their employees. Workforce Nutrition delivers proven benefits, as a healthier workforce results in better productivity, lower absenteeism, and higher employee retention and staff loyalty. And one additional benefit stands out: a fully implemented workforce nutrition programme earns two full points on the WBA scorecard.”

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