Investing in healthy food at work provides an employer with the opportunity to support the overall health and wellbeing of employees. Unfortunately, company canteens don’t always recognize this, and there are often few healthy options or meal alternatives that are considered more nutritious.
At the Olam Agri Kaduna Feed Mill Plant in Nigeria, HR manager Rowland Ogungbemi saw an opportunity. He joined the Workforce Nutrition Masterclass 1 because he wanted to understand healthy dietary choices himself, and find ways to bring it to the workplace. “We believe a healthy employee is a productive employee.”
Challenges & successes
Key challenges identified at their plant was however the acceptance of a non-traditional healthy menu, the high cost of fresh fruits, and securing meal subsidies.
Ogungbemi and his team started by reviewing their menu. “We now include fruits which is widely accepted and appreciated by the employees. We also offer this for free to staff on Wednesdays. We call it ‘Fruity Wednesdays’. In addition to this, we also have nutritious soup on the menu which is high in protein and vegetables.
As for overcoming the acceptance of healthier foods, Ogungbemi and his team are trying to address this through an employee awareness campaign focused on good nutrition and the nutritional value of food and fruits. They are using a variety of communication channels and strategies such as banners and opportunities for employees to engage through trivia and quiz activities.
Ensuring there is an inviting space where employees can enjoy meals is another seemingly small change that can encourage employees to sit down and have more nutritious meals, rather than eating on-the-go and being tempted to have unhealthier take-away convenience foods or processed snacks. Inspired by another Masterclass participant, the canteen at Ogungbemi’s plant was transformed to be redecorated with vibrant colours and fitted with bright orange window blinds. “We wanted to create a conducive and warm space for employees.”
The programme provides an opportunity for organizations to improve employee productivity through healthy dieting and engagement, says Ongungbemi. “It also provides the opportunity to create a unique employee value proposition to prospective hires, as the practice of creating awareness around nutrition is rare.”
 The Workforce Nutrition Masterclass is a three-month course that consists of live online meetings, peer support, workshops and practical tools to help you implement an impactful workforce nutrition programme in your organization. Joining is an programme is an excellent opportunity to learn and connect with like-minded professionals from across the globe, such as in-house HR-managers, sustainability executives and other managers or consultants concerned with employee wellness. The time investment is approximately 2 hours per week. Click here to find out more.