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Global Dairy Cooperative’s ‘eat, move, sleep’ challenge

Running a wellbeing programme across several time zones and languages was never going to be easy, but Leah Potter and the Wellbeing team at Fonterra were up for the challenge.

Leah, Fonterra’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Programme Lead, is now into her second year of leading ‘Eat, Move, Sleep’, an annual six-week wellbeing programme that’s offered to all Fonterra’s people.

Fonterra currently employs a total of 22,000 staff located in 30 countries.

The Eat, Move, Sleep programme is just part of a suite of wellbeing initiatives the global dairy cooperative runs, but it was the first of this scale to be developed and run in-house, rather than by an external provider.

“We had run an off-the-shelf physical activity programme before, but it wasn’t quite meeting our extremely diverse and global workforce’s needs. We needed to devise our own one in-house, delivering a simple programme that was easy for all our staff to participate in.

“Doing this ourselves also offered the opportunity to reduce our costs, but more importantly it enabled us to build the capability to deliver it again, tailored to our people’s needs,” says Leah.

“We wanted to target physical activity, what people ate, and their sleep goals. We knew from a 2014 Health Risk Assessment report we had low rates of positive health in these areas. Targeting these would support lasting wellbeing changes."

Fonterra’s Better You Crew – which runs the company’s wellbeing initiatives – swung into action. Drawing expertise from the company’s nutritionists, communications and information services teams, they worked together to build Eat, Move, Sleep.

The programme ran for the first time in 2016, aimed at participants achieving three primary daily goals: 

  • Eat with balance – did they eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables today?
  • Move – did they move for 30 minutes or more?
  • Sleep – did they sleep for at least seven hours? 

Fonterra’s challenges

With the company split over seven business units, all with different key leads, issues, shift patterns, time zones and languages, Leah says running a programme that would benefit most was a complex undertaking.

“All sites did it in their own way, but we tried very hard to make it easy for them to participate together and equally.”

As part of that, each of the challenge’s six weeks started on a Tuesday, running until the following Monday. “We couldn’t start it on a Monday because it would still be Sunday in some of our sites, which wouldn’t be fair,” says Leah.

Language was another issue. “Our graphics team developed a number of promotional materials, such as an Eat, Move, Sleep logo, templates and promotional posters. We translated these from English into Bahasa, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.

“We engaged with our regional Wellbeing Leads to drive engagement and participation in their regions. We called for people to be Site Champions for the challenge, and they helped display the promotional materials and get people on board.”

The programme

And they did get on board. One in five Fonterra employees enrolled for Eat, Move, Sleep. They were asked to form teams of between five and seven, and elect a team captain.

The captains (renamed ‘coaches’ for 2017) registered on behalf of their team, collected their data each week and entered it into Fonterra’s SharePoint hub. That data (how many minutes exercised, servings of fruit and vegetables eaten and hours slept) translated into points for their team.

The hub also held the challenge’s registration pages, tools, resources, leader boards, announcements, discussion boards and key contacts. Participants were directed there via information posted on Fonterra’s intranet and challenge-related staff emails.

Videoed personal stories, weekly prizes and updates kept the teams motivated, while locally, the Global Wellbeing Leads and Site Champions gave regionally specific support, organised events and shared stories to further motivate their teams.

At the end of the challenge, prizes and awards included:

  • Most Improved Individual (globally)
  • Most Improved Team (globally)
  • Top Ranking Team by Business Unit
  • Top Ranked Individual (globally)
  • Values Prize: Exceptional Team Captain Award
  • Values Prize: Exceptional Site Champion Award


The data showed a week-on-week improvement for participants with people eating more vegetables and fruit, doing more physical activity, and getting more sleep.

A Participant Survey and Team Captain Survey followed to gauge personal reactions. It also asked for feedback on the challenge’s tools, rules and instructions, and support for the captains.

Leah says 90% believed the challenge had a positive effect on their health and their productivity (85%). Also, 71% said it motivated them to make healthy changes, while 83% said they would maintain their healthy changes and improve further.

“The great thing was they really enjoyed the challenge, especially with its team spirit and global connectivity. They said they would do it again, which is why we ran it again in 2017, with some adjustments based on the survey's feedback.”

Eat, Move, Sleep 2017

Leah says the team simplified data collection for the 2017 challenge. “In 2016 we asked for daily data to be collected by the captains, but that was too much. In 2017 we asked for just the weekly totals to be collected, then given to us via our data input hub.

“Also, we created log books out of Excel with automated formulas. The weekly data would be entered against a participant’s name, and it automatically calculated points. This was easier for captains.”

They also created a series of simple health messages that we sent out weekly. “We didn’t want to bombard people. We wanted to encourage them to think about simple achievable options that they can easily incorporate into their daily lives.” says Leah.

“We wanted them to think about one improvement they could make each week for the six weeks that would create lasting change. This meant participants, with their vast array of different needs, decided for themselves what they could do, rather than us telling them what they should do.”

Part of that was ‘Remake my Day’, where participants are asked to choose a part of their day and decide on one simple improvement.

“Maybe that’s eating a better breakfast. Or maybe it’s looking for a way to improve what they do after work, such as planning for a better dinner or setting themselves up for a good sleep. We gave them three levels of changes they might make, and they decided what would make a difference for them,” says Leah.

“We also renamed the captains as ‘coaches’. That better reflected their role to help participants set their own goals and find their own solutions so they’re more likely to achieve them.

“We also offered the coaches leadership and development opportunities, using the GROW model as a way of learning how to achieve goals and solve problems. We were really happy to embed this in people who aren’t necessarily leaders at work. It’s so useful in other parts of life.”   

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