NestlÚ Jamaica rolls out wellness initiative for staff

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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DEPRESSION, anxiety, and even suicide have increased globally and have caused companies to turn their attention to the prevalence of mental health issues in organisations.

In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that globally, 264 million people are suffering from depression, which is one of the leading causes of disability and workplace trauma. Not only does poor employee mental health impact people's personal lives, but it also hampers productivity in the workplace.

One company that is concerned with the mental health of its employees is NestlÚ Jamaica Limited. A large food company that has close to 300 staff members in Jamaica, NestlÚ has decided to put even greater emphasis on workplace wellness. Portion control sessions, annual medicals, fitness classes, and stress and resilience sessions, are just a few of the initiatives that form part of their internal Healthy Lives Programme, a release from the company said recently.

“Absenteeism can cost the company millions of dollars each year, not to mention having adverse effects on our most prized resources — our people — and with much of it relating to workplace stress, burnout syndrome, we decided to take it a step further and take our employees' health and wellness in our own hands,” stated NestlÚ Jamaica Human Resources Business Partner David Heath.

“Last year we introduced the 'Know your numbers' programme, [which is] designed to assist employees in learning about their individual health status and providing the tools to assist in achieving any wellness goals set. We got stellar participation from our staff and saw positive change in some of their behaviours and practices. The feedback was phenomenal last year, which is why we have devised a three-part Health Week Programme,” Heath continued.

As part of the Health Week Programme, the company promoted the use of the in-house gym, organised a corporate company hike, as well as stress and resilience management workshops, fitness classes, 'Know your numbers' medical screenings (blood pressure, blood sugar, eyesight, body mass index), as well as organising consultations with National Housing Trust and Sagicor.

According to Country Manager Daniel Caron, “We want to be good corporate citizens so we have made the move to implement a workplace wellness programme. As a company, we are presently aligned with the health minister's thrust to having a healthy and well workforce.“

“We have invested in desk bikes so that persons can workout from anywhere they want in the organisation. They are portable bikes that are able to move wherever, just to get a quick exercise in while we work. The goal is to keep active,” he emphasised.

Heath added: “We don't want our workers to be inactive or mentally exhausted, so 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week is the message we are pushing for our workplace wellness initiative. We want our employees to get physically active, because data is showing that a great portion of the Jamaican population is inactive and we want to change that.”

According to Heath, a healthy workforce will likely result in enhanced productivity and can lead to substantial health care cost-saving opportunities.

“Evidence has shown that within a workplace wellness programme, with peer support, it goes a long way. In terms of the cost factor, you would have reduced absenteeism, as well as [there is] the likelihood of less health insurance being paid, so these are some long-term benefits,” Heath noted.

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