" The GCC is an incredibly fun and simple way of encouraging employees to get more active and can be easily implemented into people’s busy everyday lives. " Batman

Nestlé UK has always had a well developed Occupational Health and Safety program. However, in line with a business transition from a Food and Beverage manufacturer to a focused Health, Nutrition and Wellness business, over the last 12 months, Nestlé have transitioned OH towards a more integrated “employee wellness” scheme that impacts ALL of its 6,000 employees in the UK.

Of spectacular and unexpected success, was a program introduced in 2008 to get employees more physically active. This is known as the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) and aims to motivate employees to walk over 10,000 steps per day. It does this in a truly unique and innovative way – by challenging teams of 7 employees to take part in a virtual walk around the world over 125 days! The GCC was endorsed from the top with even the CEO and his Senior Leadership Team getting involved. Nestlé is also not alone, as in 2008, over 50,000 employees from nearly 1,000 companies from across the world got involved in the GCC.

During the event, Nestlé employees are organised into teams of 7 and strap on a GCC pedometer to start counting their daily steps. Over 125 days, employees enter their daily step counts into the GCC website (www.gettheworldmoving.com). The website then converts these steps to distance and plots each team’s progress along their virtual journey around the world. The more active a team, the further they will progress along the journey and the more communities and countries they explore.

GCC European director, Tom Sermon said the GCC is helping the corporate population fight back against the health dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and bulging waistlines.

“On a daily basis, the GCC forces employees to make simple, healthy choices, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop earlier or taking a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting at their desk.”

“With employees spending more and more time in the office and diabetes & obesity figures continuing to rise, the workplace is fast becoming a major battleground in the fight against poor health,” Mr Sermon said.

Results

In 2008 Nestle started with a target of getting 10% of the workforce involved and, following a coordinated communications plan, 22% of the workforce joined up (1,200 employees).

The performance of Nestlé UK employees was spectacular and resulted in Nestlé UK taking the GCC trophy for the “Most Active Company in the World” (beating nearly 1,000 other businesses). The average Nestlé employee walked over 13,500 steps per day for 125 days – equating to over 8.5kms or burning off 550 calories. This was 350% more physical activity than recorded prior to the event starting.

Health Benefits

With a sustained level of higher physical activity, we recorded some substantial health benefits:

  • 50% reported weight loss (with the highest recorded being 26kg)
  • 67% reported increased energy
  • 71% reported increased fitness
  • 39% reported improved sleep patterns.

Travel behaviour

The GCC also helped change employee’s long-term behaviours towards exercise:

  • 50% decrease in employees using the lifts
  • 66% increase in cycling to work
  • 25% decrease in car use

The GCC is an incredibly fun and simple way of encouraging employees to get more active and can be easily implemented into people’s busy everyday lives. Not only that, but it’s applicable to every single person within the workplace. It’s highly visible, has measurable results, is cost effective and most importantly really excites people. Already Nestle UK has committed to getting 33% of the workforce involved in 2009 as well as cascading to other Nestle businesses in Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

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Dr David Batman, Group Chief Medical Officer & Head of Employee Wellness for Nestlé UK added: “The GCC is an incredibly fun and simple way of encouraging employees to get more active and can be easily implemented into people’s busy everyday lives. Not only that, but it’s applicable to every single person within the workplace. It fits perfectly with our strategy. It’s highly visible, has measurable results, is cost effective and most importantly really excites people – It meets all our parameters.”

Nestlé would highly recommend other businesses to get their employees involved in the 2009 event which is set to run from 21st May through to the 22nd September. For more info, please visit the GCC website www.gettheworldmoving.com

Team Registrations are already open and filling fast so I would encourage anyone interested to please contact the GCC team on 01904 693 454 or by emailing [email protected] Registrations will close on the 13th May 2009.

Dr Batman is speaking at the Health @ Work summit. Click here for more information.