Fairness in the workplace

Improving employee health, nutrition & well-being

We protect and promote the health, nutrition and well-being of our employees so that they can enjoy fit and healthy lives, both at work and at home.

Unilever employees eating round a table

Our approach

We aim to support our employees to be the best they can be. This includes giving them tools to promote, maintain and enhance their health so they can maximise their fitness and, at the same time, improve their capacity to work safely and effectively. This benefits both the individual and our business.

Our global strategy for Medical and Occupational Health (M&OH) has two core elements:

  • Health promotion - to promote, maintain and enhance the health of our employees, maximising their wellness and allowing them to work safely and effectively. This is exemplified by our focus on tackling HIV/AIDs in Africa, and our company-wide focus on physical and mental well-being.
  • Health protection - to protect our employees from work-related hazards to their health, including in our manufacturing facilities, ergonomically or while travelling.

We implement this strategy through a series of targeted health promotions and health protection programmes, including our flagship Lamplighter programme and our global Well-being Framework.

A holistic view of well-being

We define holistic well-being as a sustainable state of feeling good and functioning well, as a whole human. Well-being unleashes the energy in our people to drive sustainable performance, and we have developed a four-pillar Well-being Framewor to support our employees to work sustainably.

Mental health is one of the top three health risks we have identified across our business, alongside lifestyle factors (for example, exercise, nutrition, smoking and obesity) and ergonomic factors (for example, physical health issues such as repetitive strain injury). The four pillars of our Framework, developed in 2014 by our Global Well-being Steering Committee, address physical, mental, emotional and purposeful well-being for employees.

Our well-being strategy also includes creating a working environment that is supportive of employees’ personal lives, while meeting our business needs. One of the ways we do this is through agile working – providing our colleagues with safe, adaptable working practices and technology, allowing them to perform their job anywhere, at any time, as long as the needs of the business are met.

We offer more formal flexible working arrangements too, such as job-sharing and flexible or reduced hours. Read more on agile working in Cutting office impacts. Our strategy also includes planning to respond to pandemics, when taking care of our employees’ health becomes even more crucial for protecting individuals and business continuity alike.

Addressing occupational ill-health includes the prevention of work-related illness and occupational diseases; ergonomics in the workplace; environmental health; protection from noise; enzyme-related surveillance; and the delivery of occupational health for factory workers through our Manufacturing Excellence programme.

Evaluating the impact of our health & well-being initiatives

Lamplighter is our worldwide programme for improving employee health. In 2016, it covered 70 countries, reaching around 83,000 employees. See Targets & performance. Programmes such as this have important short- and long-term health and business benefits. In the short term, we expect to see healthier, more motivated and more productive employees, with lower levels of sick leave. We aim to have more conversations about well-being and support our employees to work towards being sustainable themselves. We see the long-term benefits as achieving a sustainable workforce with long-lasting good health, happiness and purpose for our colleagues. And for our business, we see lower healthcare costs, which in turn also contribute to reducing the burden on public healthcare.


Unilever employee looking at mobile phone
Good health is good business

We have commissioned multi-year studies to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of our health programmes. These analyses examined risk prevalence data across ten lifestyle-related risk factors from 2008 to 2016. Other relevant data included programme participation, programme investments, and median annual compensation – which we used to determine productivity savings associated with changes in risk prevalence.

Our aggregated results show that for every €1 we spend on Lamplighter programmes, we see a return of €2.57.

We also measure health risk factors at country level over a three-to-five-year period, giving us feedback on what needs to improve and how we can provide bespoke interventions, as well as the frequency of work-related illness per million hours worked.

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