Unilever health scheme set to boost executive energy

The consumer products giant hopes its holistic health service will increase
stamina and resilience

The 50 top executives at consumer products giant Unilever are participating
in an innovative occupational health programme designed to address their
physical and mental health in a completely new way.

Since September last year, a pilot scheme drawn up by head of corporate
occupational health Dr John Cooper, has been providing a more holistic
corporate health service, going beyond health promotion and screening.

The senior executives rarely have anything medically wrong with them, Cooper
said, but they do need more energy, stamina and resilience to cope with the
increasing demands of modern business life.

"If you want to drive growth, you have to have leaders. What we are
doing is putting together something on the health side that might help our
executives refuel their energy," he said.

The programme focuses on six key areas. A standard health risk appraisal is
conducted, checking factors such as sleep patterns, tiredness, energy, blood
pressure and fat and cholesterol levels.

This is followed by a coaching session with a personal trainer in the
company gym to assess fitness levels and confirm whether it is safe to continue
the programme. A fitness programme is then arranged for the employee.

The third element is a nutritional assessment which checks whether the
executives are getting the right mix of vitamins, minerals and supplements in
their diets to maintain energy and stamina levels – particularly important if
they travel extensively.

Participants are then coached on tactics to handle pressure, reduce stress
and release energy.

The next element involves examining the heart rate of the executives, said
Cooper, as recent research has linked heart rate with cognitive performance.

A scorecard is used to monitor the programme’s effect on the 50
participants, and they are also regularly given questionnaires.

"We plan to carry out questionnaires on a three-, six- and 12-month
basis and to repeat our tests," Cooper added.

If the programme is successful, he plans to expand it throughout the entire
company.

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