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When Vodafone set out to improve employee wellbeing, a key challenge was to ‘nudge’ people into healthier eating habits. Sara Bean finds out how it’s done

Just over three years ago the communications company Vodafone introduced a new employee campaign, with the strapline ‘We’re at our best when you’re at yours.’ Its aim is to empower its people to make positive choices in work and in life. Wellbeing is central to this strategy as one of the key purposes is to encourage employees to balance work and family commitments, manage stress and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

According to Vodafone’s own research, there is a direct correlation between the health and happiness of employees and commercial success, which includes maximising ROI, improving productivity and reducing absenteeism.

Healthy eating plays an intrinsic role in wellbeing, says Ann-Marie Dunbar, Vodafone UK FM Contract Manager. “At Vodafone we’re only as good as our people, which is why wellbeing is at the top of our agenda. Coupled with the catering service, there’s a place at the table for many areas of wellbeing and how we do the right thing by our people.”

The group has approximately 9,000 employees in the UK, based in its retail outlets and across a range of hubs. These include its Newbury HQ, a global HQ at London Paddington, and others in Birmingham and customer contact centres in Manchester and Stoke.

To help encourage its UK employees forge a healthy approach to food, Vodafone began working with Mitie’s catering business Gather & Gather in December 2015. During that time Vodafone employees’ relationship with food has been transformed. There has been a significant rise in the sale of nutritionally balanced lower calorie meals and healthy snacks, an increase in the number of staff seeking health assessment checks, and a drop in the average body mass index (BMI) of employees for those tested.

Gather & Gather operates a Live Well wider wellbeing programme across its contracts. This takes a holistic approach to healthy eating to ‘nudge’ employees to make healthy choices, working with clients and their onsite services to ensure employees receive a consistent healthy message. The programme is underpinned by accurate scientific information about health and nutrition, utilising the latest research on lifestyles.

“The Live Well solution is branded across all our contracts,” explains Barry Moore, Performance Director at Gather & Gather, adding that the specific environment created at Vodafone “was very important in giving its people a choice of where to eat and to encourage healthy choices.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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