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Iarnród Éireann is a subsidiary company of CIE, the publicly owned transport company of Ireland.  Our role is to provide rail transport services within the State of Ireland.

Iarnród Éireann employs 4,300 people, 89% of the staff are male and the average age is 47+, Employees work across a wide variety of roles, including shift and night working – from engineering to train driving, frontline customer service, office, and remote working – They are a geographically distributed workforce across the national network. There are 144 stations and over 1 million passengers are carried weekly.

Promoting Workplace Wellbeing – The Process

Iarnród Éireann’s People Strategy sets the strategic people leadership direction to 2027, with four key strategic priorities which include being a leader in employee health and wellbeing. Our aim is to create a workplace environment where the health of employees, mentally and physically is embedded within the culture of the organisation enabling a thriving, engaged and productive workforce.

WHO Healthy Workplace Framework Venn diagram

Using the WHO framework for workplace health as our evidence-based roadmap, we steered our programs using this model. See diagram above for our key headings.

  • A staff wellbeing survey in 2021 identified what was important to employees and the company actioned and responded to what their responses were.
  • We gained senior management commitment and employee engagement
  • Formation of a cross functional wellbeing steering group and committee group including union reps.
  • We recruited 50 wellbeing champions over the network. We provided support, training and also offered them personal Life/Health coaching.
  • We developed a bespoke wellbeing programme called Ignition Go for staff based on initial research done from the Diabetes Department with transport workers.
  • We developed an annual calendar of wellbeing events,


  • 4,300 staff spread across the country, over 145 locations.
  • 89% of our staff were male and the average age is 47 years.
  • Given our profile chronic disease prevalence is likely.
  • Very traditional culture.
  • Shift workers hard to reach group.
  • Comms challenge as not all our staff have emails.
  • Staff spread throughout the country – difficult to reach.
  • Access to healthy choices and culture of healthy foods was limited.
  • Fatalities on the line – mental health consequences for staff.
  • Workload is demanding.
  • Low turnover, change can be a challenge.
  • Capacity for Health & Wellbeing expertise is limited.


  • Agreed annual budget and external wellbeing sustainability funding sources obtained.


  • Culture of health and wellbeing being embedded in the organisation. Iarnród Éireann won the 2023 CIPD award for the large company category. 
  • Staff are beginning to see workplace wellbeing as part of organisational culture of Iarnród Éireann.
  • Reputation of the organisation as a positive working environment and an employer of choice is promoted.
  • 46% of our staff identified as carers including our CEO. Iarnród Éireann became the first workplace to sign up with Family Carers Ireland for workplace.
  • New Occupational Health facility for staff
  • Wellhub-employee health and wellbeing platform

Outcomes of the Ignition Go Wellbeing program

  • An evaluated report by the Railway Safety Standards Board
  • Interactive app
    • Live webinars and in-person events
    • Personal coaching
    • 738 participants (nearly 20% of workforce), 470 of them have the app and are actively engaged with it. 
  • To date 39 group calls completed.
  • 25 outside experts’ webinars and the remainder done by Ignition Go.
  • 30 newsletters
  • Confidential personal Health coaching with over 100 people.
  • The Last live event had 200 in attendance and 2,100 remote attendants. 
  • A 6-week health champions programme that was attended by 21 champions. 
  • 3 in person events: approx. Over all 400 attendees in total, in person cookery demo, food tasting and staff panel, Wellbeing Conference on Heart & Brain Health, and our latest one was called Conquering the challenges of modern life.

Qualitative feedback from some of the Ignition Go focus groups:

“Great for accountability, motivation & increasing confidence” 

“Positive weight loss, no focus on it but it just happened” 

“Wellbeing champions really liked it and wanted to promote it”

Key Learnings

  • Using our well on track logo brand to help engage employees into wellbeing initiatives.
  • Follow through on what staff asked for
  • Align initiatives with organisational objectives and goals. Consultation with staff
  • The power of your wellbeing champions to connect with staff and promote events Ensure all departments and locations have a wellbeing champion.
  • Consider staff welfare issues.
  • Ensure senior management are visibly committed to workplace wellbeing.
  • Use evidence-based models of workplace wellbeing.
  • Continue to evaluate, review and improve the programme.
  • Think creatively and allow the programme room to grow.
  • Consider gender needs when engaging staff–Men’s health Engage workshops /menopause webinars, pregnancy ergonomic needs for staff and facilities.
  • Linking in with other railway networks –RSSB healthy cultures group
  • Continually evaluate, review, and improve the wellbeing programme.