Woolworths Tackles Obesity With Employee Wellness Program

Australia’s fresh food retail chain is implementing an employee wellness program to help employees make healthier choices.
February 24, 2014

NEW SOUTH WALES – When Woolworths set out to assess the health of its 900 store managers and 200 operations managers in 2013, the “fresh food people” Australian supermarket chain didn’t like what it learned.

“The results were a shock: 80% of the senior staff were either overweight or obese and 31% were obese,” writes The Sydney Morning Herald.

Woolworths launched face-to-face biometric testing to assess the physical age of its employees based on questions about lifestyle and health, writes the newspaper, which it then compares with actual age. The results were handed to managers personally in March 2013.

“For some it was extremely confronting,” Justin Pratt, employee care and wellbeing manager, told the news source, adding, “Some managers were 20 years over their chronological age. It was intentional: to create a real shock and vulnerability.”

Woolworths is “grappling with how to motivate nearly 200,000 staff to adopt healthier lifestyles,” notes the news source. To move the needle, the retailer’s wellness program offers subsidized gym memberships and an online portal, “All Good,” that includes a health risk assessment tool, training programs and an eight-week schedule to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Employees are also taking on health challenges in different regions. For example, in the Balgowlah area, 17 store managers meet once a week for boot camp.

To learn more about what other retailers are doing to encourage employee wellness, read “Wellness at Work” in NACS Magazine and revisit the 2013 NACS Show educational session, “Creating a Culture for a Great Workplace.”