Unilever — a British multinational consumer goods company — has developed the Lamplighter programme, a global framework that aims to encourage health and well-being of employees through an exercise regime, nutrition and mental resilience coaching. The programme originally focused on non-communicable diseases, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and tobacco-related illnesses, but was expanded in 2013 to also include mental health. Unilever recognized that these conditions may impact the quality of life and well-being of its employees, as well as increase employee absenteeism. The global programme is adapted to each country’s particular context and major causes of ill-health among workers.
At the heart of Unilever’s Lamplighter programme is a free employee health check, which includes a consultation around nutrition, sleep, resilience and physical activity. An initial check-up is followed by a six-monthly or annual visit where progress is monitored. The programme aims to encourage employees to change their behaviour and sustain new habits (e.g. regular exercise, better eating and managing pressure) during the first six months, which has been shown to lead to long-lasting, positive, behavioural changes.
Every year, Lamplighter supports more than 76,000 employees in over 75 countries. The programme has resulted in significant improvements in the health of participating employees, especially around key health indicators such as smoking, obesity and diabetes. Specifically, Unilever reports that Lamplighter has achieved globally:
- An 8% reduction in overweight/obesity
- A 16% reduction in hypertension
- A 5% reduction in physical inactivity
- A 17% reduction in poor or under nutrition
- A 3% reduction in smoking
- A 40% increase in mental resilience (varying by region)