Workplace Wellbeing Certification - The KeepWell Mark

It’s an exciting time for workplace health promotion in Ireland. Businesses are coming around to the fact that healthy workers are happier and more productive. This trend has not gone unnoticed by a number of organisations. Ibec, the business and employer association, launched a national workplace wellbeing accreditation called the “KeepWell Mark” late in 2017. Later this month the team behind Great Place to Work are launching a new programme called “Healthy Place to Work” and the government body Healthy Ireland are working on a project called the “Healthy Workplace Initiative”. So within a 12 month period it looks likely that we will have gone from no recognised certifications to three separate bodies offering an award for workplaces with a real heath focus in Ireland.

So what path does an organisation with a genuine interest in providing a healthy work environment aim for? My plan is to review and compare all three certifications as soon as they are live. As Ibec were first out of the blocks with The KeepWell Mark, I sat down with Karen Hilliard and Anna Donegan of Ibec last week to find out all the necessary details pertaining to that accreditation.

The KeepWell Mark from Ibec


Ibec have a track record with workplace health promotion. They launched Workplace Wellbeing Day in 2015 and have supported its growth year on year since then. While highlighting the importance of wellbeing at work on one day of the year is better than none, the KeepWell Mark is something that will require more of a longer term commitment to wellbeing from businesses which is to be welcomed.

There are 8 areas that an organisation will need to demonstrate a level of Commitment, Achievement or Excellence in to gain the KeepWell Mark accreditation. The 8 areas are:

  •          Leadership
  •          Absence Management
  •          Smoke Free
  •          Physical Activity
  •          Health and Safety
  •          Mental Health
  •          Healthy Eating
  •          Intoxicants

The Process

The process of achieving the KeepWell Mark can be broken into 6 steps:

1.       Self-assessment

The organisation finds their starting point by carrying out a self-assessment to identify their current level against the 8 areas above and discover where the gaps are. To achieve the accreditation you need to fully meet the standards outlined at Commit level across all 8 pillars.

2.       Review and evidence gathering

Review your self-assessment form with KeepWell Account Manager, Karen Hilliard and agree a plan to fill any gaps, gather evidence and prepare for accreditation.The evidence can take a variety of forms:

 • Written policies • Staff surveys • Photos • Information leaflets • Meeting minutes • Emails

3.       Site visit and external assessment

The on-site assessment process is completed by an independent assessor and involves a tour of the workplace, face to face interviews with senior management and a focus group with employees (from a cross section of the company including new hires, long term staff but no management).

4.       Analysis and recommendations

This will be in the form of a personalised report containing findings and analysis of the organisation’s performance measured against The KeepWell standards as well as detailed recommendations aimed at improving all areas of employee health and wellbeing.

5.       Accreditation

Upon accreditation you receive your KeepWell Award, Certificate and recognition pack.Currently the award is valid for 1 year however I believe Ibec are reviewing this and expect to extend the validity of the award to 2 years. 

6.       Renewal

Re-accreditation should be sought when the award expires and the price for re-accreditation is 50% of the original fee.

The pilot programme ran last year with companies such as Sky Ireland, Britvic, Microsoft and Oracle participating. The programme is now in full operation and is open for new clients. Ibec are reporting that the overall process to date, from sign up to accreditation, is taking around 3 to 4 months on average.

workplace wellbeing accreditation - the KeepWell Mark

Prices are based on the number of sites that a company has and start at €6,500 for an Ibec member (1-3 sites) and €8,000 for non-members. As mentioned renewal costs are 50% thereafter every 2 years.

Ibec state that the auditing and benchmarking takes place against an established set of standards, namely the UK Workplace Wellbeing Charter which was first introduced by Liverpool City Council and is what the KeepWell Mark is based on.

To help promote the KeepWell Mark, Ibec are hosting an event entitled the KeepWell Summit on June 21st in Croke Park which they say will help organisations embed a culture of health and wellbeing into their corporate culture in a way that enhances the mental, social and physical wellbeing and productivity of all staff. I’m looking forward to checking it out and learning more about the work that Ibec and other Irish companies are doing in this area.


An issue I have with wellness in Irish workplaces at present is that a lot of the initiatives are short term and often one off events with no proper follow up or support. Workplace Wellbeing Day is fantastic for raising awareness of health promotion in the workplace but a large amount of organisations use that day or perhaps that week to cram all their wellbeing activities for the year in to such a short space of time. As I heard Dave Casey of DeCare Dental say recently, would you brush your teeth 365 times in one day and not touch them again for the rest of the year?

It’s too early to judge the quality or the completeness of the KeepWell Mark. I very much welcome the fact that this kind of certification will require much longer term thinking on wellness from organisations though. Ad hoc lunch and learns and the odd yoga class won’t cut it. Embedding wellness into the culture of an organisation must be the aim and that requires a strategic approach from senior management with a workplace wellbeing operating plan as the guide. The KeepWell Mark is a step in the right direction towards this.

Yours in health,


P.S I love talking about health and wellbeing so drop me a line to discuss any of the above. I'd be happy to support you or your business with their wellness objectives.

Contact me directly with any questions you may have:

The Low Down

Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant and speaker empowering employers and employees to make their workplaces healthier places to be. He is the founder of Office Worker Health.

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