“Many of our young colleagues are already on the brink of obesity. We want to improve this situation.” 

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A cohort representing nine countries – The Workforce Nutrition Masterclass kick-off

“Supporting employers and their executives to introduce cost-effective workforce nutrition programmes is what I am excited about.” That was Mirjam Kneepkens welcoming the participants to the autumn 2022 edition of the Workforce Nutrition Masterclass, which kicked-off on 14 September. The HR and operations executives taking part come from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkeyn and Viet Nam.

Improving employees’ wellbeing
Although the executives come from different places, they share a passion to help improve the wellbeing of their organisations’ employees. The common thread of the comments during the introduction was that there should be more nutritious food at work, particularly given a large percentage of employees are currently suffering from non-communicable diseases that are typically related to malnutrition. Participants believe that Improving the diets of employees at work will make them healthier, improve productivity and result in lower insurance claims. It can also contribute to people eating more healthy food at home, which will benefit their families.

The participants discussed the scorecard exercise they conducted on behalf of their companies, using the Workforce Nutrition Alliance’s free-of-charge Self-Assessment Scorecard (Link). A key point that also came up in medical reports conducted by some companies is that a lot of their people are indeed suffering from nutrition-related diseases.

Eléonore Ntambe, HR Assistant in charge of L&D at Olam Agri said: “I was looking at my colleagues during team outings, and realized: junk food has predominantly become our go-to meal choice when we’re hanging out or during break time. It is now the time to focus on the nutritional habits of our employees and introduce workforce nutrition programmes.”

It is very clear that nutrition education and a focus on nutritional habits of employees are required in the context of workforce nutrition programmes.

Multiple solutions
One participant said: “In my job I have the advantage of being connected to many businesses, farms and factories, and we would like to assist them in implementing workforce nutrition programmes.” She also completed the scorecard for one of the company’s local businesses. “I was surprised at how little access they have to healthy foods. I am sure I will learn a lot from the Masterclass, and I am hoping I can make a difference in other companies.”

The multi-faceted approach to workforce nutrition was also mentioned at the course’s kick-off event. One participant highlighted the fact that his employer has mainly focused on breastfeeding support, one of the four pillars of workforce nutrition programmes. However, improving the other three aspects – healthy food at work, nutrition education and nutrition health checks – is also very important. Together, the four pillars have a broader impact on people and their families, because they also lead to people taking care at home, improving and spreading knowledge about the importance of good nutrition.

Here to help
All the Masterclass participants expressed their personal interest and motivation in contributing to wellbeing at work. The last word goes to one of the participants: “My colleagues and I are fully aware that we need to learn much more about healthy and nutritious food. Many of our young colleagues are already on the brink of obesity. We want to improve this situation.”

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