Who to Watch in Workplace Wellness in Ireland in 2019

There’s been some really positive progress in the health promotion landscape in Irish workplaces in recent years. Companies are slowly beginning to move away from box ticking wellness initiatives and two healthy workplace accreditations have been launched (with a third on the way) that promote a longer-term approach to workplace health promotion. There’s still a considerable way to go if we want to catch up with our international counterparts, particularly in the US, but there’s no doubt we are on the right path.

I see 2019 as an important year for health promotion in Irish workplaces.  I’d love to see Ireland lead the way and develop a world class ecosystem for workplace health promotion and I don’t see why we can’t. I’m doing my bit with the Workplace Wellness Ireland community which is going from strength to strength with a very exciting schedule of events planned this year.

I can’t do it on my own though! I’ve put together a list of individuals that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through the course of my work that I believe will have a significant role to play in shaping the future of workplace wellness in Ireland over the coming years. I’ve also managed to gather some of their thoughts and expectations on what we can expect to see in the industry in 2019.

Let me know your thoughts on the list and your own predictions for the year ahead in the comment section below.


Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinane, Assistant Professor in Trinity Business School and Director of 'The Place to Be'

Sarah-Jane works in the Trinity Business School and has 10 years’ experience in teaching and researching the areas of HR, Organisational Behaviour, and Well-being at Work. She has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour focusing on well-being and job design, and a diploma in teaching Mindfulness-Based Interventions. In bringing her passions together, she established her own business, The Place to Be, in 2018 to complement her academic work by helping organisations build a culture which fosters and promotes well-being.

Sarah-Jane believes that “leaders drive well-being in the organisation and act as role models for healthy behaviour, which is why most of my current work involves developing and researching mindfulness-based leadership development programmes which give leaders the opportunity to build resilience by developing self-insight and strategies for self-care. In 2019 I look forward to further embedding well-being in the undergraduate and postgraduate business studies curricula in Trinity and in leadership development programmes in organisations as I strongly believe that well-being is about establishing new habits and behaviours which require regular practice and supportive networks.”

Caroline McGuigan, CEO and founder of Suicide or Survive

Caroline is a psychotherapist, mental health advocate, group facilitator, activist and founder of the charity Suicide or Survive. SOS works with individuals and businesses to educate, inform and inspire people to cultivate good mental health and reduce stigma.  Caroline’s vision is to approach mental health differently, a vision that puts the power and responsibility back in the hands of the individual.

I was fortunate enough to meet and see Caroline speak on a number of occasions in 2018 (she was also a guest speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up). I am always left feeling inspired and motivated having heard Caroline’s passion and commitment to promoting the importance of supporting mental health in the workplace.

“The team in SOS are really excited going into 2019 having delivered workplace programmes to thousands of people in organisations throughout the country.  We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.  Our intention is to be part of a country of life-long learning, curiosity searching and not certainty, a more compassionate country and a society where we lift each other up.” 

Enda Campbell, Workplace Health Promotion Officer at the Irish Heart Foundation

Enda co-ordinates the workplace health promotion programmes at the Irish Heart Foundation. His qualifications include a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick and an MA in health promotion from NUI Galway.

Enda sees a move towards more evidence-based interventions and initiatives this year. “There has been fantastic growth and increased awareness of the value of workplace wellness initiatives but as the case has been in the USA in recent years, I would predict that there will be a move towards reducing risk factors of ill-health, rather than some interventions that have low engagement and impact. We will get better at recognising impactful interventions and begin to measure the impact of what we do.“

Fania Stoney Healthy Place to Work and Great Place to Work Ireland

Fania Stoney, Healthy Place to Work

Fania is an executive with the recently launched Healthy Place to Work, brought to us by the people behind Great Place to Work. Fania works closely with organisations to guide them through the Healthy Place process and helps them understand their current investment, so they can move away from a tick-box style offering (woohoo!) towards implementing a wide-ranging and evidence-based health strategy. I’ve seen Fania present at a number of events and she always brings great energy and insight on how to create meaningful work, craft a resilient workforce and energise employees.

For 2019 Fania expects that “with the labour market hitting saturation point, the health and wellbeing offering that organisations have will differentiate their employer brand, both in terms of talent retention and attraction. Understanding that offering, its relative strengths, opportunity areas and embedding a health strategy will be what sets organisations apart in the coming year.”

Stephen Costello, CEO of Spectrum Wellness

Stephen began working with the Spectrum group as a marketing executive and quickly secured promotions through to Commercial Director before becoming Managing Director of Spectrum Wellness by the age of 27. The company has grown at a phenomenal rate, including the announcement of 100 new positions last July which is great news for the workplace wellness industry in Ireland.

Stephen is currently leading the Spectrum Wellness team on a new project that he claims will revolutionise workplace wellbeing in the UK and Ireland, making it easier for human resource employees to champion health and wellness at work.

“2019 is not just going to be an exciting year for the company, but for workplace wellbeing in general. As a $43bn industry worldwide, there are many opportunities for innovation in workplace wellness, especially in the digital realm. A combination of digital and in-person, genuinely expert-led wellbeing experiences for employees in the future will make health and wellness more accessible and engaging than ever before for companies of all sizes. This will help to make workplace wellbeing much more common place.” 

Donal Scanlon Mental Health First Aid Ireland

Donal Scanlan, Mental Health First Aid Ireland Manager

Donal has been working and studying as a professional in the area of mental health and well-being for nearly 20 years. He’s an occasional contributor to digital, television and print media, often speaking publicly on mental health in Ireland at conferences, schools, colleges and the corporate world and has guest lectured at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin. Most recently he was a guest speaker at the Oireachtas Forum on Mental Health hosted by the Ceann Comhairle. As the manager of Mental Health First Aid Ireland, Donal oversees the rollout and delivery of MHFA training in Ireland.

“My overwhelming feeling for 2019 is ‘hope’, I’m truly excited to build on the work done so far; and harness the energy and appetite for workplace focused wellness heading into 2019 and to partner with organisations to drive real change by creating supportive, healthier and engaging workplaces that in turn can bring improved productivity and contentment to employees”

Sohini De, Founder & CEO of Wind of Change Total Wellbeing Solutions

Sohini worked in the corporate world as an equity investor for many years and is also a practicing nutritional therapist and health coach. Wind of Change services businesses, schools and charities in India and Ireland and was founded on Sohini’s ‘farm to fork’ insights of the food and agriculture sector plus several years of study and market research into what helps employees and companies so that individuals reach their best physical and mental potential while corporates can save resources and be more productive. 

“In terms of our expectations for workplace wellness in Ireland in 2019, we would share some of our key takeaways from our Irish and international market research. We expect to see a more data driven approach by corporates for targeted programme delivery and drive towards continuous improvement rather than one off programmes. This will not only ensure higher employee engagement but also improve transparency and clarity for all stakeholders.”

Jim Kirwan, Author, speaker, consultant and Director Forever Young Club

Jim is a best-selling author, speaker and wellbeing coach and consultant. After 25 years in HR roles in financial services, he moved to America in 2003 and became a spokesperson on the importance of physical activity and employee wellbeing. He returned to Dublin in 2017 and he has hosted and chaired a number of wellbeing conferences. He was the very first speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up in 2018.

Jim recently joined forces with Pat Falvey, the adventurer and explorer and they will shortly launch the Forever Young Club, an over 50 community which is designed to help members develop an active, healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Jim says that “all managers and HR executives create the environment for employee wellbeing to thrive. This message is increasingly getting through here in Ireland, so 2019 promises to be the year where managers really walk the wellbeing talk and take a longer term, strategic perspective.”

Mark O Reilly, CEO FitVision Training Ltd and FitVision Technology Ltd

Mark is one of Ireland’s most sought after health and wellbeing coaches and speakers. He’s a qualified executive coach, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist. He comes from a health and fitness background himself having played soccer at a professional level (he’s a fellow Bohs man!) and qualifying for the world championships in the Ironman triathlon.

FitVision provides wellness programmes tailored for unique corporate environments, cultures and goals and recently developed a purpose built app that allows Mark and his team to create an experience for the individual employee, who can set specific targets to improve mental and physical wellbeing and feel supported on that journey. 

“I feel in 2019 this technology will be the key thing for FitVision that allows us to continue to scale the business and offer quality service to each company we have the opportunity to work with.”


David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager at DeCare Dental

David has almost ten years clinical experience in healthcare having worked for the last six years designing and implementing wellness and education programmes for over 500 organisations across Ireland and the UK. He is currently completing his Masters in Health Promotion with specialist interest in mental health and workplace health promotion at the school of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at NUI Galway.

For 2019, David says “Talent is everything and embedding a top down culture of wellbeing into an organisation can enhance its capabilities in recruiting and retaining the best talent.  Making wellbeing an important part of your company’s working environment can make employees feel valued and satisfied. These are the individuals who make the best addition to any team. They play an instrumental role in keeping the workplace culture alive and thriving through regular interactions with co-workers and management.”

Richard Murphy, CEO and founder of Zevo Health

Richard founded Zevo with the purpose of getting employees from A to B in their overall wellbeing. He recognised that employee needs differ and no two people are the same, therefore Zevo customise each company’s wellness programme to fit their needs. The aim is to improve the bottom line for businesses but most importantly to support employees in improving their overall health and wellbeing within the company.

Richard’s expectation for 2019 is that mental health and diversity training in the workplace will be a major factor in company wellness programmes.  For 2019, Richard and the Zevo team plan to continue helping companies in having a healthy and happy workforce.  

About the author:

Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness programmes (such as Corporation Transformation) for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is also the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community. In his spare time he is bringing free resistance training to every county and community in Ireland through his parkHIIT project

Email: brian@officeworkerhealth.com

Brian Crooke Workplace Wellness Ireland