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wellness q&a
Unilever’s health and vitality
breckon jones
manager talks to Kath Hudson
about the company’s new
wellness programme
nilever has a legacy of looking after its staff: the health and vitality manager for Unilever in the UK and
company has gyms at seven of its 16 sites in the Ireland, calls “compelling communications”.
UK, all of which are kitted out with a full range of The company’s latest employee wellness scheme – Fit Business
fitness equipment, and some of which also offer – builds on this offering, using expertise from across the company
group exercise classes in multi-use areas. to assess the health of the workforce, provide them with
Most of the gyms are free to use for all staff, but even opportunities to get fi t and educate them on healthy choices.
those that charge membership fees are very affordable as Here, Jones talks in detail about the new programme,
they’re run on a not-for-profi t basis. Staff are also actively including initial results and some of the ways in which staff are
encouraged to join via incentives and what Breckon Jones, being encouraged to take part.

what is fi t business?
It’s a pilot programme for our

when did it launch? the canteen and easy access to fitness
The pilot started in January 2009 at facilities and activities on-site.
wellness provision. It’s a bit different from two of our sites: Leatherhead, an The second component is engaging
wellness schemes we’ve run in the past office-based site, and Port Sunlight, near the individual, which is all about inspiring
because it pulls in other areas of in-house Liverpool, which is predominantly a people to act healthily by giving them
expertise, including occupational health factory site. Unilever employs 7,500 information and opportunities – for
and nutritionists, as well as the expertise employees across the UK and Ireland, example, the ‘lunch and learn sessions’
we have in our brands and the health and there are 2,000 employees between that involve guests speakers coming in to
messages they promote. those two sites alone. A number of talk about the current theme, to try and
evaluations are being carried out, pique people’s interest.

what are the messages including by the Institute for Public Empowering people is our third
being promoted? Policy Research (IPPR), so we can make component: we’ve tried to provide
There are four quarterly themes, all informed decisions when we roll it out practical tools and resources – for
selected to be in line with what the next year to our other sites. example, health checks looking at things
government is promoting at the time to like cholesterol levels – so people can
give them extra impact. The first theme,

what does the understand and manage their own health.
at the start of this year, was nutrition and programme comprise? In 2007, a health check we carried out
GDA (guideline daily amounts). The There are five components. The first is showed there was a disparity between
second was physical activity, the third was the environment you create: we’ve tried how healthy people thought they were
heart health and the fourth, running now, to make this as conducive to exercise as and their biometrics, especially in the
is salt and blood pressure, in line with the possible, as well as to make a healthy factories. Part of the message is that,
Food Standards Agency TV advertising lifestyle accessible. For example, staff even though you think you might be
campaign about healthy salt intake. have access to nutritional information in healthy, it’s important to have these
“Nuffield is
monitoring the
frequency of
usage at the gym.
We currently
have 500 active
users – a big
percentage of the
1,260 workforce”
Health checks Results show staff often think they’re healthier than they actually are
56 Read Health Club Management online november/december 2009 © cybertrek 2009
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