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Leading learning technology firm reaps rewards of prioritising staff wellbeing throughout COVID-19 pandemic

05 Jul 2022
Synergy Learning 2

Like many organisations, provider of world-class learning technology Synergy Learning’s working practices and culture were hugely impacted by the pandemic and the company was faced with serious concerns about the toll this would take on the physical and mental health of its employees.

Tory Kerley, Head of People at Synergy Learning explains; “We have always been well intentioned with regard to staff physical and mental wellbeing, promoting physical activity, advocating good work/leisure boundaries and embedding our 1Team value within the organisation. Everything changed in 2020 however when the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it enforced distributed working. At that time, we had 45 individuals working throughout the UK, though mainly in Northern Ireland. Everyone had their own unique challenges to face at home, for example home-schooling, whilst at the same time dealing with a dramatic uptake in the demand for Synergy Learning’s services.”

“It was therefore enormously helpful when, in June 2020, a serendipitous conversation between one of our Business Development Managers and a Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke representative introduced us to the Well Team programme, which two years on developed into the Work Well Live Well programme.”

Work Well Live Well is a free workplace health and wellbeing support programme delivered by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) and funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA). The aim of Work Well Live Well is to help local workplaces to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees through personalised support. As part of the programme, NICHS support organisations with carrying out a health and wellbeing survey, developing a bespoke, 3-year action plan for their team as well as providing access to training, webinars, resources and networking opportunities.

Tory continues; “The Work Well Live Well programme has been an excellent source of support for promoting and improving the health and wellbeing of the Synergy Learning team. It has supported us with surveying the wellness needs in our business, training staff, focusing on skills and knowledge with our management team in regard to mental health and most importantly, devising and executing a full wellbeing strategy. The opportunity to collaborate with the excellent NICHS team helped us replace our well-intentioned but rather scattergun approach to wellbeing with a needs-based strategic action plan.”

Working with their dedicated NICHS Workplace Health and Wellbeing Co-Ordinator, Synergy Learning implemented great changes within the organisation over the past two years, with staff wellbeing forming the heart of their ‘People, Performance and Culture’ strategy.

Tory says; “We are active signatories of the Mental Health Charter and have two trained Wellbeing Champions who help disseminate advice and guidance to their colleagues and promote best practice in terms of exercise, diet and nutrition. We engage regularly in health promotion activities such as staff step challenges and Men's Health Week and ensure that wellbeing is embedded into our performance enablement processes.”

“Feedback from our staff has been fantastic and the team recognise the focus and effort we have placed on staff wellbeing. They tell us about the lifestyle changes they have made since being involved with Work Well Live Well which have resulted in positive impacts for them and this is just fantastic to hear.”

Post the peak of the pandemic, Synergy Learning now operate a fully flexible working model and staff can choose to work at home, at the company’s new Belfast hub, or a mixture of both. Tory explains; “This change has also been enormously helpful in enhancing team happiness and there is no doubt that in a slightly crazy world, wellbeing at work is more important than ever.”

“Our team is growing, and an active wellbeing programme and a supportive working environment is certainly something that prospective employees are looking for. The support we have received working in partnership with NICHS has enabled us to take a compassionate but structured approach to supporting each other and build strong foundations to grow our wellbeing offering for the future. I would highly recommend any workplace getting involved in Work Well Live Well.”

Emma McCrudden, Work Well Live Well Programme Manager at Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke says; “We are your local charity leading the fight against chest, heart and stroke illnesses. We recognise that the workplace is a priority setting for influencing the physical and mental wellbeing of employees and delivering the PHA funded Work Well Live Well programme is just one way that we are working to promote good health in workplaces across Northern Ireland to prevent serious illness in the long term.”

“Synergy Learning is a great example of a workplace which wanted to make a positive change and put staff health first, not just during the pandemic, but for the long-term. The initiatives put in place by Synergy Learning have been a great success and have made a real difference to the health and wellbeing of the team. We are now recruiting new workplaces to take part in the programme and would encourage organisations of all types and sizes to get in touch to find out how Work Well Live Well can help them.”

For more information and to register for Work Well Live Well, visit