Skip to content

With the mission to serve the Irish people, promote their values and advance their prosperity and interests abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs provides the Government with the capabilities, analysis and influence to ensure that Ireland derives the maximum benefit from all areas of its external engagement.

Company Statistics

Organisation type: Irish Governmental

Employees: 2400

Location: Global

Promoting Workplace Wellbeing – The Process

The Department established a Wellbeing framework in 2019 focused around 4 key pillars, namely physical, social, mental and environmental wellbeing, which is led by the HR Workplace Relations Unit and supported by a 12-person wellbeing committee and a network of global wellbeing champions.

To ensure a robust and sustainable programme DFA:

  • Obtained management buy-in and an annual budget
  • Secured a semi-dedicated headcount to manage the programme
  • Established a bi-weekly programme of online and in-person events and initiatives
  • Used employee engagement and pulse survey data to drive decision making
  • Introduced a range of new policies to better support employee wellbeing and work/life balance to ensure wellbeing sustainability
  • Developed partnerships with third party organisations such as Saint Patricks Mental Health Services to deliver tailored resilience programmes for colleagues posted abroad in very challenging circumstances
  • Introduced recognition awards to acknowledge exceptional service and commitment


Some of the early challenges encountered in embedding the programme included:

  • Resourcing – ensuring sufficient resources to maintain focus
  • Momentum – ensuring a continuous and steady flow of initiatives
  • Sustainability – introducing supporting policies to help embed a culture of wellbeing
  • Reach – Ensuring inclusivity in meeting the demands of a globally dispersed workforce
  • Quantifying success – using data to drive decision making and evaluate success


While a dedicated budget was secured, the per person allocation was minimal. Where possible the Department leveraged speakers and developed initiatives at no or little cost. It did this by calling upon speakers within the wider public service free of charge as well as developing in-house activities and sharing content among Departments. Where costs were incurred, they were kept to a minimum to ensure appropriate spend of public money.


  • Increase in employee sentiment scores as documented in the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey
  • Increase in employee engagement through the development of clubs, activities and initiatives
  • More resilient staff that are better equipped to operate at optimal performance
  • Development of new policies that support better work/life balance
  • Improved complement of employee wellbeing resources supporting physical, mental, social and environmental wellbeing

Key Learnings

  • Secure management buy-in
  • Resource your programme to ensure sustainability and avoid window dressing
  • Use data to justify the pursuit of initiatives that will add value to the organisation
  • While online initiatives have reach, in-person initiatives help build stronger bonds among staff
  • Ensure a variety of tailored wellbeing resources are provided to staff rather than generic talks and workshops.
  •  Constantly evaluate, appraise and rate initiatives to determine their value and future use