Do workplace nutrition interventions help your business?
How much is a healthy workforce worth?
It’s not an intangible question. In fact, it has been measured.
Studies show that businesses in low- and middle-income countries lose between $130 and $850 billion per year due to malnutrition-related productivity issues. But it might be worse than that. The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition estimates undernutrition alone to cost developing countries in Asia and Africa an incredible 11% of their GDP each year – more than the yearly downturn which resulted from the 2008 global financial crash.
In either case, it is clear that a malnourished workforce is a major economic problem for businesses in low- and middle-income countries.
Some say the solution is simple, that by providing nutrition interventions in the workplace, businesses can overcome worker malnutrition, and reap the benefits for themselves. Certainly, ensuring that workers are healthy and nourished can be presented as ‘the right thing to do.’ But what about the business case? Are nutrition interventions worth it?
Here is what all businesses, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, need to know.
The Benefits of Workplace Nutrition Interventions
From a purely bottom-line perspective, workplace nutrition interventions provide a substantial return on investment for businesses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that ensuring optimal nourishment in the workplace can raise productivity 20%, while American giants Johnson and Johnson have produced numerous studies showing how wellness programs have made companies millions. In fact, studies have shown that for every $1 USD a company invests in workforce nutrition, it makes $6 in return.
No wonder Forbes Magazine called nutrition “the missing piece of the corporate wellness puzzle.”
Good Governance and Investment
The benefits of workplace nutrition interventions go beyond a company’s internal ROI. Note that studies show that companies with health and wellness programs outperform those without on the stock market.
More than ever before, investors are considering the role of nutrition in delivering sustainable growth. The health of workers is seen as an area of investment risk, which means that companies are under growing pressure to demonstrate positive nutritional impacts on the workforce.
Often, the way investors measure these impacts, the way in which risk is assessed, is through environmental, social, governance (ESG) frameworks. These provide tangible metrics on a company’s impact on the health and nutrition of its workers, allowing investors to assess performance and risk.
These metrics are frequently constructed using the framework of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), most specifically, SDG 2.1: “end hunger and ensure access by all people […] to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.”
It’s simple: workplace nutrition interventions help businesses become more profitable, and more sustainable
They not only provide businesses with a positive return on investment, but make them more attractive to investors. Whether or not workplace nutrition interventions are a moral imperative, ‘the right thing to do,’ so to speak, for businesses in low- and middle-income countries, they must certainly be an economic imperative.