Creating inclusive workplaces that support people to enjoy long, healthy, active lives

What do we do?

Business in the Community’s Workplace campaign challenges and supports employers to create inclusive workplaces that encourage people to enjoy long, healthy and active lives. Our two key areas of focus are Wellbeing and Inclusion.

We seek to:

  • Help organisations to reduce the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace
  • Empower employers to support employees to reduce the harmful impacts of sedentary lifestyles and create active working lives
  • Implement and share best practice on two equality issues – age and gender – to create more balanced and inclusive workplaces in Northern Ireland

To achieve this we will:

  • Provide cutting edge resources, services and activities to support and inspire business to develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to employee wellbeing
  • Support business to create an innovative, structured and effective approach to managing demographic changes, creating age-friendly and gender balanced workplaces





Case Study

Find out how Belfast Health and Social Care Trust supports its employees.

Workplace news

Healthy Working Lives 2017 – Age at Work

Over one hundred and twenty business people from across Northern Ireland attended the fifth annual Healthy Working Lives Conference at Riddel Hall, Belfast on Thursday 2 March to explore our ageing population at work.

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Innovative new app launched to help NI workers keep tabs on their drinking habits - November 2016

ADDICTION NI, in partnership with Business in the Community, has developed a new mobile phone app to help employees across Northern Ireland keep track of their drinking habits by calculating the number of units in their drinks and how long their body will take to process the alcohol.

Launched to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week, the new DrinkWatch application is available for download for Android and iPhone users. It allows users to add the drinks they have consumed and the time they consumed them. The app will then approximate how long it will take for the user’s body to process the alcohol. It will also issue a warning if the user travels over 4mph! Other tools within the application include:

  • Alcohol calorie counter
  • Cost calculator
  • Drinks diary
  • Information on harm reduction
  • Tips for reducing your alcohol intake
  • Guidance on government guidelines

The app has been developed as part of Drink, Work & Me, an employer-led, pioneering programme that seeks to help employees understand the wider impacts of alcohol, assisting them to make informed choices when using it. Twenty companies have already participated in the programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Thelma Abernethy, CEO, Addiction NI commented: “It’s great to see an issue that was highlighted by so many during the delivery of our programme being addresses in this innovative way. The DrinkWatch application helps people to understand their unit intake and hopefully it will encourage them to use alcohol in as safe a way as possible.”

Amy Kieran from Business in the Community added: “We’ve been working with Addiction NI to deliver the Drink, Work & Me Programme for over three years and one concern that is often highlighted by participants is that they don’t know how to accurately calculate or quantify what they drink and how long it takes from them to process the alcohol consumed, particularly the morning after.

“The DrinkWatch app is a great way to help solve this issue and we hope it will be a valuable resource for employees across Northern Ireland.”

Alcohol Awareness Week runs from Monday 14 November to Sunday 20 November 2016. The theme for this year is ‘Know the Risks’.

The DrinkWatch app can be downloaded from the Play Store for Android users and the Apple Store for iPhone users. For more information on Drink, Work & Me, visit

New Mental Health Toolkit for managers launched - October 2016

Business in the Community has launched a new Mental Health Toolkit for Line Managers to support local organisations to deal with mental health within the workforce in light of new research

BUSINESS in the Community, in partnership with Action Mental Health, has launched a new Mental Health Toolkit for Line Managers to help support local employers to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.

The launch coincides with the publication of findings from the Mental Health at Work survey, commissioned by Business in the Community. The survey, which polled 20,000 people in work across the UK, revealed that 77% of employees polled have experienced poor mental health. 62% of employees have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor, with 24% experiencing issues within the last month.

The toolkit is specifically designed for managers. Its benefits are three-fold. Firstly, it will give managers greater confidence in recognising the signs of mental ill-health among colleagues. Secondly, it will give guidance on the appropriate help they can offer employees who are absent from work due to mental ill-health, and how to support them upon their return. And thirdly, it aims to promote an open workplace culture where people feel comfortable talking about their mental health.

Speaking at the launch at Action Mental Health Works in Antrim, Amy Kieran, Workplace Programme Manager at Business in the Community said: “The results of our Mental Health at Work Survey are startling, with three quarters of all employees suffering from mental ill health at some point in their lives. Whilst employers are conscious that they have a duty of care to their employees, this tends to be a sensitive subject, and many managers are still unsure how best to deal with the issue in the workplace. Our findings showed that three quarters (76%) of managers polled believe that staff wellbeing is their responsibility, yet 80% said organisational barriers prevent them from delivering on this.

“This toolkit reflects our continued commitment to addressing mental health within the workplace, ensuring that it is treated with as equal importance as physical health. This toolkit will be a valuable resource for managers, giving them practical advice and guidance to feel confident and comfortable when supporting colleagues through all stages of mental illness – before diagnosis, during a period of absence, and upon return to the workplace.”

Grainne O’Kane from Firstsource Solutions was part of a group of senior HR professionals involved in the production of the Mental Health Toolkit for Managers, which has been successfully rolled out within the organisation. Grainne commented: “Having acknowledged that the root cause of much of our absence was due to mental health related issues, we decided to address this through the support of Business in the Community and Action Mental Health. Our team leaders have since been trained to identify and support not only our employees who may need support, but also family and friends. In turn, we have noticed a direct improvement in our absence and attrition levels. ”

The Mental Health Toolkit for Line Managers is a free resource which is available to all Business in the Community members. To download a copy, click here.

For more information, please contact or call (028) 9046 0606.

NI workforce urged to participate in Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey - July 2016

Business in Community Mental Health01

WITH one in four of us predicted to experience a mental health problem during our lifetime*, mental wellbeing at work is increasingly considered a critical business issue. To help understand the current situation, Business in the Community is calling on employees across Northern Ireland to take part in a UK-wide Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey.

The survey, which is the largest ever survey of mental health in the workplace, is designed to get a complete snapshot of the mental wellbeing of the UK workforce. It aims to raise public and employer awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing and identify how well equipped managers and employees are at spotting the early warning signs of poor mental health.

Robbie Butler MLA, a member of the All Party Group on mental health and UUP mental health spokesperson, is backing the survey. He explains: “Mental health issues currently directly affect 28.5% of our population, with a wider impact on the families, local communities, and of course, employers of those affected.

“Given the prevalence of mental health issues in our society, it’s vital that we seek to understand and address the underlying issues. Figures show that stress accounted for 43% of all working days lost due to illness last year. I would encourage all employers and employees alike, to take the time to complete this survey, which will help to paint an accurate picture of the mental wellbeing of the Northern Ireland workforce.”

Denise Cranston, Campaign Manager for Business in the Community added: “We are delighted to be conducting this much needed survey as part of our Mental Health at Work campaign. Locally, there remains a stigma around mental health, and many employees still feel unable to raise any concerns or issues that they may be having with their employers.

“Our aim is to improve employee wellbeing by raising awareness and supporting employers. We hope that the survey will give us a better insight into attitudes towards mental health in Northern Ireland and provide a rich resource to help us build guidance and support for employers and employees. We are encouraging all businesses here to take part and encourage employees at all levels to complete the confidential survey.”

The National Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey is part of a UK-wide campaign to determine the mental state of the UK workforce. The survey which closes on Friday 29 July, is confidential to complete and takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

To complete the survey, please visit

Help for North West employers to tackle impact of alcohol in the workplace - June 2016

Innovative new Drink, Work & Me Employers’ Toolkit launched

ADDICTION NI, Business in the Community and the Social Research Centre have worked in partnership to launch a new Drink, Work & Me Employers’ Toolkit, designed to help businesses review, develop and implement an effective substance misuse policy within their organisations.

The toolkit has been developed as part of Drink, Work & Me, an employer-led, pioneering programme that seeks to help employees understand the wider impacts of alcohol, assisting them to make informed choices when using it. Nineteen companies have already participated in the programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Launching the Toolkit at BEAM Centre, Maydown on Tuesday 21 June, Thelma Abernethy, CEO, Addiction NI explains: “As the third biggest cause of death in Northern Ireland, alcohol is a major issue in our society, and its misuse is the second greatest risk factor for cancer after smoking.

“With the heaviest drinkers tending to be concentrated among those of working age, we believe the workplace is the ideal setting to focus on the issue. This Toolkit has been specially designed to give employers the means, ideas, and information to provide appropriate wellbeing support to their workforce.

“Many employers want to support their staff who are experiencing alcohol-related harm but are unsure where to start. Drink, Work & Me is not an anti-alcohol campaign; it’s about ensuring employees in Northern Ireland have access to appropriate information and guidance at the right time in their lives to enable them to make informed choices about their alcohol use.”

Amy Kieran from Business in the Community added: “Talking about alcohol use and misuse within the workplace should not off-limits. Instead, organisations should promote an open and friendly working culture where employees feel comfortable in speaking to their colleagues and manager about any concerns or issues they may have. This approach can assist any individuals who are experiencing problems and ensure they have access to relevant support services as early as possible in order to reduce the impact on themselves, their colleagues, their family and the business. This Toolkit is a great way to achieve this, and we are delighted to release it as a valuable resource for business”.

Firstsource Solutions was among the first cohort of businesses to participate in the Drink, Work & Me project and has now completed the programme, with all staff receiving the training. Laura Hourican, Vice President, Human Resource UK, Firstsource Solutions is a strong advocate for the programme. She explains: “Drink, Work & Me has certainly helped to raise awareness of the potential impact of alcohol misuse amongst our employees and has also enabled us to create a culture where employees feel free to confront any difficulties they may be experiencing. Drink, Work & Me has allowed us to address what is often a contentious issue from a strategic perspective whilst bringing a range of positive benefits to staff wellbeing.”

£ for lb Celebration event May 2016

Thanks to everyone that attended our £ for lb Celebration Event at Belfast Harbour on Thursday 19 May.

The overall winning company was Seagate Technology, with employees losing an incredible 2,476 lbs and 407 waist inches collectively.

  • 1,620 employees took part
  • Participants lost 9,467 lbs (676 stone) – that’s the weight of the average killer whale!
  • Participants lost 1,509 waist inches, which is almost the same height as Victoria Square
  • Raised more than £17, 000 for charity

Healthy Working Lives 2016

Of the 8,777 people diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland each year, around one-third are of working age. With this in mind, more than 120 business people and 15 exhibiting companies gathered in Belfast on Thursday 3 March to discover how they can support employees who have cancer or other long-term conditions.

This fourth annual Healthy Working Lives Conference, organised by Business in the Community and the Public Health Agency (PHA) at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, provided the forum for discussions which focused on prevention and promoting awareness of cancer and other long-term conditions. Businesses were encouraged to do the right thing for employees impacted by these conditions by considering four thematic areas: awareness, prevention, treatment and reintegration & care.

The half-day event attracted delegates from across the public, private and charitable sectors, including business owners and senior managers, human resource professionals, workplace health champions, occupational health providers and health improvement practitioners.

What does it mean to have a healthy working life?

How things happened on the day

If your business needs support to helps its employees have healthy working lives, please contact our Workplace 20:20 team today on (028) 9046 0606.



Engagement Calendar 2017

20 December 2016

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Modern Slavery, Forced Labour and Supply Chain Resilience

23 May 2017

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NI employers explore the opportunities associated with an ‘Ageing Workforce’

07 March 2017

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Help for businesses to tackle the issues associated with an ‘Ageing Workforce’

25 January 2017

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