Workplace Wellness programmes are often thought to be the domain of only large corporates, and beyond the resources of smaller businesses, but this does not need to be the case.

When I look around the members of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council, I often see innovative ideas that are designed to encourage team members to make healthier choices that don’t cost the Earth.

As you think on health and safety policies and strategies for implementation, here are just a few ideas I’ve noticed over the past while that are easy to implement and make a difference almost immediately:

Free fruit for staff

I saw this idea in action when I visited Pitango, in Auckland. Chief Executive Mary Boulton told me that offering a selection of fruit in their tearooms had been well received, and that staff generally ate about three pieces each a week. It meant that at tea breaks there was always a healthier option available, and it was an inexpensive way to make a real difference.

Walking meetings for the team

Some teams at Nestle hold walking meetings, which are exactly as described. Rather than sitting in a room around a table, team members don their walking shoes and head outside to walk and talk business. I haven’t been on a meeting like this, but I can imagine getting outside on a nice day for some fresh air would probably aid discussion. The only question I wonder about is how does someone take notes?

Nudge posters

Motivational posters that encourage people to sit less and move more can make a big difference. Some members have put up some of the Health Promotion Agency’s posters to encourage team members to take the stairs instead of the lifts. Sometimes a well-placed A4 poster can be all it takes to encourage someone to make a small change and take the stairs, therefore adding to their activity for the day. For a full set of resources and lots of other ideas have a look at

Office challenges

While on the subject of stairs, office stair challenges and other activities can also work well. I have much admiration for Chris Buddle and his team at Simplot. They recently teamed up to run the Auckland Marathon and raise funds for the Lung Foundation. Once again, ideas like this don’t cost a lot of money – all that’s needed is the will to implement them and get people involved.

Gym memberships

Whether a company goes as far as funding gym memberships or allows flexible work arrangements to make gym attendance easier, encouraging people to get more active and leading by example can make a big difference. Johnson & Johnson has been a leader in this area, offering both memberships and time within the working day to get active.

There are probably hundreds of Workplace Wellness ideas that can make a difference in your company.

The Consumers Goods Forum, the global association for manufacturers and retailers, says there is a connection between the health of employees and the health of the business, and that globally almost two-thirds of companies with effective health and productivity programmes believe they perform better than competitors who don’t have such programmes.

This is backed by a recent Harvard University study that found there was an average return on investment of more than 200% on investments in employee health and wellness programmes. Common strategic objectives include improving productivity, reducing “presenteeism” (when employees are at work but not fully productive due to personal health issues), and disability costs.

The forum’s Health & Wellness Team has put together a toolkit that contains step-by-step advice about getting started, based on their own experience. It’s free and available on their website, and it’s well worth the read. You can find it at

(as published in FMCG Business magazine)