Tesco employs around 340,000 people in the UK and Republic of Ireland, across a variety of different roles and locations. This includes 240,000 employees in stores throughout the country, 6,000 in its offices and 24,000 in distribution.
Helping employees look after their physical health is a key part of its overall wellbeing strategy. Harriet Ford, health and wellness programme manager at Tesco, explains: “It’s important to help everyone be as fit and healthy as possible. We try to offer a broad range of initiatives to accommodate the diverse needs of our colleagues.”
Among the high-profile physical health initiatives it runs are the Great Tesco Walk, which took place in 2017 and saw thousands of employees walking in relays from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for charity; and Dance Beats, where, in 2019, more than 6,000 employees and members of the public broke a world record by completing a 30-hour dance marathon relay.
On a more day-to-day basis, Tesco also helps staff look after their physical health through Gympass. This gives them access to gyms throughout the UK as well as a range of online fitness and wellbeing options. “When gyms and leisure centres were closed earlier this year, it increased the range of apps and online exercise options it offers,” adds Ford. “We also made sure we were promoting these options as much as possible to help colleagues stay fit and healthy.”
Wellbeing weeks are also a regular calendar fixture at Tesco. For example, in August, physical health was one of the key focuses of its wellbeing week. “We teamed up with our healthcare partners to offer activities such as boot camp, yoga and relaxation as well as running a series of webinars with inspirational people such as Olympic hurdler Jack Green, and cancer survivor and BBC podcast presenter Deborah James,” explains Ford. “We got really positive feedback from our colleagues, especially around the variety that was on offer.”
Should employers be more proactive in looking after the physical health of their employees?