QQI has been included in an index of the top 100 Irish companies leading the way for employee wellbeing. Compiled by IBEC and Business & Finance magazine, the list is the first of its kind in Ireland and is aimed at recognising those organisations in the vanguard of promoting employee mental health and wellbeing.
It’s another significant landmark on a journey that in 2019 saw the state agency receive the KeepWell Mark, an evidence-based accreditation awarded by IBEC.
With people spending around a third of their life at work, it’s hardly surprising that awareness of workplace wellbeing has been growing. More and more, we recognise not just the need to safeguard our health and wellbeing, but the benefit of doing so in all areas of life. For employers, the positive effects of wellbeing programmes are many, and include improved employee health, increased retention levels and higher levels of engagement and productivity.
And its importance has never been clearer than in the wake of COVID-19, which has transformed how and where we work. In QQI, our focus has been on finding out how we can best support employees in safely making the transition to remote working, while staying engaged, flexible and motivated.
Amongst the initiatives rolled out by our HR team were:
- Regular virtual all staff meetings, with updates by senior management on all aspects of the business. These were and continue to be well attended and well received.
- Surveys focused on remote working were conducted in June and again in December as part of our staff engagement process. They allowed staff a platform to express their experiences of the new arrangements and the challenges they presented operationally. They also allowed us to gauge somewhat the impact of remote working on employees’ personal lives, and chart how this changed over the year.
- Survey data also aided management in efficiently addressing issues arising out of the transition to remote working.
- Regular meetings of the Staff Engagement Focus Group continued to shape and implement the wellbeing agenda within the organisation.
- Wellbeing and general awareness workshops continued to be offered during the year, alongside a suite of virtual social activities e.g. online fitness classes, coffee mornings and book club meetings.
- Finally, the promotion of and participation in Mental Health Awareness Days continued to feature in our corporate calendar of activities, along with staff training in Mental Health First Aid.
Besides this, QQI encourages and actively supports a culture of lifelong learning amongst employees. Several members of staff are enrolled in third level programmes at bachelor's and master's degree levels. Regular training and development initiatives are also delivered in support of the continuous professional development of QQI employees.
Finally, in the run up to National Workplace Wellbeing Day, we decided to put our collective social, mental and physical wellbeing at the heart of our staff engagement activities.
To that end, we have just wrapped up a week-long wellness and wellbeing celebration featuring fitness Q&A’s, yoga sessions, a virtual Camino, online coffee-sharing sessions and an organisation-wide focus on random acts of kindness, with staff crowdsourcing and sharing ideas, suggestions and ways to 'pay it forward'.
QQI will remain committed to prioritising health and wellbeing of all its employees, not just for a week but throughout the year, and beyond.