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Flower Child: Alexandria Kelly's Journey of Resilience and Business

Flower Child: Alexandria Kelly’s Journey Of Resilience And Business

By New Frontiers blog

Flower Child: Alexandria Kelly's Journey of Resilience and Business

The startup journey is famously bumpy. For every win, there’s a corresponding flurry of obstacles and problems. When we also have setbacks in our personal lives, it makes things even harder. Alexandria Kelly hasn’t just built a thriving business from scratch; she has done so while navigating tumultuous personal health challenges.

The tale of this founder demonstrates the power of grit, determination, and positivity. In a candid conversation, Alexandria unpacks her journey, the inspiration behind her unique products, and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Join us as we delve into the heart of Flower Child and the indomitable spirit of its founder.

Scarlet: Alexandria, your journey with Flower Child began as a blog in 2021 and has since transformed into a thriving business. How did this evolution occur in the midst of your personal health challenges?

Flower Child Alexandria KellyAlexandria: Yes, it started off as a personal project back in 2021. As I shared my gardening passion and other experiences on my blog, a community began to build around it. I was enrolled at SETU – Carlow Campus, studying for my BSc in Business with Marketing at the time. During a period of poor mental health, I was given a set of aromatherapy essential oils. The impact the products had on me was profound, and I started to experiment with the different fragrances and applications like candles. People I knew started asking me to make them, and before I knew it, I was developing a product range. It wasn’t planned as such, it all just happened quite organically.

By the end of 2022, I had graduated and found a full-time job in SETU Carlow’s Marketing Department. I worked on Flower Child in my spare time and the business was really beginning to pick up speed. But just as things were looking up, a severe seizure landed me in hospital with a brain injury. That was in January this year. I have been in and out of hospital, constantly grappling with my health. But I’ve always believed in focusing on what’s within my control. Instead of getting consumed by my health problems, I poured my energy into building the company.

Scarlet: Delving a bit deeper into your health journey, how has your illness impacted your career choices?

Alexandria: Epilepsy has been a part of my life since I was 11. I was misdiagnosed at first, but at 13 I received my diagnosis of frontal lobe Cortical dysplasia. Back then, I was experiencing up to 40 seizures a day. At 13, I underwent life-changing brain surgery. That operation brought some normality back into my life. I was still experiencing seizures – partial seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and absent seizures – but it’s a world of difference from before the surgery. As we speak now, I am currently in hospital preparing for further brain surgery that will hopefully get rid of the seizures completely, but for now I am living with a daily mixture of seizure activity.

The flexibility of my job has always been crucial for me, considering my health. If I get sick or my health takes a downturn, I can’t keep to a regular work routine. I had to leave my position at SETU after my injury in January. I’ve always leaned towards entrepreneurship, partly due to my health pushing me in that direction. In the past, I’ve launched businesses centred around my hobbies and interests. It’s definitely the flexibility that drew me to entrepreneurship, and the possibility of setting my own pace and boundaries.

I know many people in similar health situations who feel that entrepreneurship is off-limits for them. But I’ve always seen it differently. I believe being an entrepreneur allows you to shape a livelihood that fits your unique needs and lifestyle. When I had my injury, I realised that Flower Child could cater to my health needs and provide employment for myself and others.

Scarlet: Your products carry a unique inspiration. Could you share a bit about that?

Flower Child - Lakeside Daydream candleAlexandria: Absolutely. My family home, Turra Lodge Farm, has a beautiful garden which my Mum and Nana designed and planted when I was younger. It is a cornerstone of my mental health. Luckily, my family has indulged my passion, or obsession, with gardening for years now and given me lots of creative freedom to develop different parts of it. That’s what my blog initially revolved around.

When my mental health was low, I began practices of mindfulness, meditation, and breath work. So, each fragrance in my product range is not only a nod to my lifestyle but also designed to offer the medicinal benefits of aromatherapy. By using them, you tap into the natural essence of life.

In our family, we say that entrepreneurship is “in our blood”. We all, including my siblings and parents, run businesses. And when it came to Flower Child, the nurturing from programmes like New Frontiers and guidance from the Local Enterprise Office have also played pivotal roles. Joining the New Frontiers programme was pure chance. I just happened to be having a chat with someone on campus one day, and they suggested I apply. My lecturers were incredible too, always nurturing my entrepreneurial spirit.

Scarlet: What’s the best advice you’ve been given, and what advice do you give to others?

Alexandria: The best advice I have been given is, “Don’t trust the first answer you’re given.” That has helped me navigate many situations. The advice I give to other people is, “You are not your circumstances.” In life and business, you’re in control of how you play the hand you’ve been dealt, and you can overcome whatever life throws at you.

I’ve been given bad advice, too. I was told to scale before I was ready for it. The startup world often promotes a “go big or go home” mindset, but scaling too quickly in the past set me back rather than helped me forward.

My guiding principle is to never quit on a bad day. Being a founder is tough, and there are days you contemplate a regular nine-to-five. But for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, the highs of being your own boss make it all worthwhile. When it comes to resilience, bad days are inevitable. They come and go, much like the waves in an ocean. The peaks make the troughs worth enduring. I suppose I’ve built up my resilience because I simply didn’t have a choice. Enduring my epilepsy has been a blessing. I don’t think “poor me”, I’m thankful for the challenges my health has thrown at me because it has made me who I am today.

Scarlet: Lastly, how do you balance work and personal wellbeing, and what’s next for Flower Child?

Alexandria: Taking care of my wellbeing is vital. One strict rule I adhere to is keeping my bedroom a no-work zone. Mornings are my own; I give myself the first hour of the day to properly wake up before diving into work. Ensuring downtime away from the business keeps my mental load balanced. Being part of a close-knit family, we often spend evenings together, even if it’s busy season and I’m in the workshop.

Looking ahead, the next twelve months are set to be exciting. We’re renovating a workshop, and I’m preparing to hire my first employees. From there, I’m keen to explore exporting and continue scaling Flower Child, but always organically!

Discover Alexandria’s world of inspired aromatherapy candles, melts, and sprays in her online shop at, where you can also read more about her epilepsy or simply pick up some cool gardening tips!

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

Project One Sky Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

Project One Sky: Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

By New Frontiers blog

Project One Sky Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

Depression and anxiety have been on the rise in children. The HSE reports that almost 1 in 4 young people may experience depression before they are 19. The disruption this causes to their lives and education is significant. Project One Sky is a New Frontiers startup that is changing how we help young people develop their social, mental, and physical health. We talked to founder Dr Colm Fallon to find out more.

First things first, what’s the elevator pitch for Project One Sky?

Project One Sky is a human development and wellbeing programme designed to nurture resilience and to help students cope with and flourish in the modern world. Its aim is twofold – to teach students to look after their own physical and mental health in the context of a rapidly changing social, cultural, and technological world, as well as to affect society in a positive manner by focussing on the ethical components of wellbeing.

How did your own background shape the business?

I always say this company was 20 years in the making as I had mental health issues myself as a young adult. Academically, I had always done extremely well. Until I didn’t. The result of this was I ended up dropping out of university. When I returned to education some time later, I had already decided that I wanted something more from the experience than just a job. I was studying physics at university and started travelling a lot, becoming very interested in philosophy, yoga, and spirituality. I went on to obtain my PhD in Experimental Physics, then became a post-doctoral fellow and researcher. However, I didn’t want a career as a scientist, so I became a physics and science teacher in a secondary school.

How did the idea for Project One Sky come about?

I saw that wellbeing was starting to be introduced to curriculums globally. It was superseding subjects such as SPHE, CSPE, PE, and religious education here in Ireland. I saw there was an opportunity to teach all the things I had been learning about mindfulness, personal development, resilience, and healthy choices. Essentially, I felt we could better prepare students – socially and emotionally – for life in the digital age. This is what prompted me to start teaching wellbeing at the school where I worked, and the idea of Project One Sky grew from there.

What was the early stage of the business like?

I got onto Phase 1 of New Frontiers at TU Dublin – Blanchardstown Campus in 2018, but I didn’t manage to secure a place on Phase 2 when I applied. As a result, I took a year to focus on developing my business idea. Working with two schools in particular, I developed my MVP and then re-applied for the programme, at which point I got on. Phase 2 was very intensive and a lot of hard work, but I was absolutely ready for it by that point. I was starting to build my client base when the pandemic hit, which obviously affected the company significantly. I had to pivot how the business worked and how we delivered our programmes. But going online actually allowed us to scale much faster, so I was able to increase our customer base by 500%.

I had never built a website before, so that was a learning curve for me. I managed to bootstrap the website and video editing until I could get help with it. I developed a network of experts (sleep experts, nutritionists, etc.) around the country, who could deliver the video content we needed to make the courses engaging. This is how we developed the digital workshops that were ready to be delivered in the classroom, facilitated by a teacher who can organise the time and help to lead in-class discussions.

What is covered in the programme?

I wanted to go into a wide range of topics that might be relevant for young people. I didn’t just want to cover ‘easy’ topics but get into deeper, more philosophical or challenging themes as well. There are 10 modules in total:

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Breathwork
  • Meditation
  • The natural world
  • Truth telling
  • Ethical smartphone use
  • Resilience
  • Connection
  • Positive habit forming

Everything is delivered over an online learning management platform to make it easy for the school to fit it into their timetable. There are no logistical issues, they have access to the materials for the whole year and it’s up to them when and how they use it. Our experts present their topics by video and there are additional materials to help the teachers lead class discussions and project work. We’ve also used gamification tactics to make sure that students will stay engaged.

What’s next for Project One Sky?

I’ve started to grow my team, which has been challenging in the pandemic. Right now, I’m focusing on talking to potential customers about signing up for the 2021-22 academic year as this has to be finalised before the schools break for the summer.

We’ve had excellent feedback from the schools currently running our programmes, and from students themselves. We will continue to roll out into Irish schools – both at junior cert and leaving cert level. After that, a next step for us will be getting into the UK market. Wellbeing isn’t as integrated into the curriculum over there, but it seems that schools are very receptive to this type of approach.

And finally, what key piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting out?

Over the past year, there were times when my own and my company’s capabilities were stretched to their limits. What helped me through those times was knowing that my project could make a real difference to people’s lives. My advice to others would be: don’t be an entrepreneur for the sake of it; rather, choose to do something that’s bigger than you. And, of course, look after your wellbeing!

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

How you can stop bad posture ruining your work day - new frontiers

How You Can Stop Bad Posture Ruining Your Workday

By New Frontiers blog

How you can stop bad posture ruining your work day - new frontiers

You’ve probably seen Emma before. If not on the internet then in real life; after all, Emma is what an office worker is predicted to look like after 20 years on the job. She’s not in great shape, poor Emma, with her bloodshot eyes, swollen limbs, varicose veins, and hunched back.

Of course, we’re referring to that eerily realistic life-sized doll that went viral across social media last year. With data submitted by over 3,000 office workers in Germany, France and the UK, scientists created Emma to show exactly where our health is headed should we continue with our sedentary office lifestyles. Suffice to say, it’s not looking good!

It was enough of a warning to kickstart us into conducting our own research to find out exactly what we need to do to avoid becoming Emma! (Apologies to any real-life Emmas out there, we didn’t pick the name!) This is what we’ve come up with…

How to avoid swollen legs and varicose veins from sitting at the desk all day

Emma’s legs are suffering from a condition known as oedema or, more specifically in this case, peripheral oedema. According to the HSE:

“Oedema is the medical term for fluid retention in the body. It occurs when there is a build-up of fluid (mainly water) in the body’s tissues, causing swelling to occur in the affected area.”

Peripheral oedema can be caused by underlying problems, but for many long-term office workers it will very likely be a result of hours spent sitting at the desk, and varicose veins can be another sign of this.

The only way to keep these problems at bay is to move those legs! There are treadmill desks as well as standing desks which you should take advantage of if possible. If your boss isn’t in the position to provide one of these for everyone in the office, there are desk additions that will extend your desk height without too much of an investment. Of course, gentle leg exercises should be your new best friend, from ankle circles to foot pumps to knee lifts and leg extensions.

The key is to start noticing opportunities to get away from the desk, and we don’t mean to doss! When you run into a technical difficulty and need the IT department to come to the rescue, why not visit them for a chat instead of sending off an email. If you have a meeting coming up, suggest that you walk and talk instead of just moving to another seat in a different room. Anytime you take a call, stand up and pace! It’ll take a bit of getting used to but, in the long run, your legs will thank for it.

How to avoid looking like an office zombie!

Red eyes can be caused by a number of issues, from smoking to pollen to dust and dirt. However, it can also be caused by computer vision syndrome, or, as its more commonly known, digital eye strain. As we use more and more screens on a daily basis, from computers to mobiles to tablets and television screens, our eyes become strained in a number of ways.

You’ve probably heard about the problems blue light can cause, such as messing up your circadian rhythm and even causing blindness by contributing to age-related macular degeneration, but it doesn’t end there. Research has shown we tend to blink less when we are concentrating on a screen which can lead to dry eyes. The constant focusing and refocusing between your screen and other objects in the room can also tire your eye’s ciliary muscles.

The solution is to take regular breaks from screens. Set alarms if necessary and find alternative ways to engage with digital content e.g. listening to an audiobook rather than reading text online. For work, you might consider investing in a pair of digital eyestrain glasses. Make sure to adjust your monitor so that it is as bright as your surrounding workstation and the screen is positioned 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. Also, start practicing the 20-20-20 rule which says to look away from your screen every 20 minutes to gaze at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

How to avoid back pain at work

If you’re sitting right now, take note of your posture. Are your shoulders hunched? Are you bent forward as though you’re about to be swallowed up by the screen?! Or perhaps you’re leaning so far back in your seat that you’re under suspicion of defying gravity? To avoid long-term back problems, it is essential to retrain your body to sit properly, but the only way you can do this effectively is by having an ergonomic workstation.

Correct sitting posture - working from home - Jeff Bullas site
Correct posture is only possible by aligning your workstation with your body. If you sit at a desk all day, it’s important to adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line with your hips. You should sit at arm’s length from the computer screen and the back of your seat should be reclined at a 100° to 110° angle. As for the monitor, it should be positioned so it is at eye level or just slightly below.

Of course, it is not only bad posture that can cause back problems. Incorrectly lifting heavy objects, such as boxes and paperwork, can wreak havoc with your spine. According to the MayoClinic, you should:

“…lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you.”

The reason most people will not do this correctly is that they are rushing. Work can be a busy place, but the choice is to either take your time and protect your health or risk ending up like Emma!

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

Leaders can help employees achieve their New Year’s resolutions - new frontiers

Leaders can help employees achieve their New Year’s resolutions

By New Frontiers blog

Leaders can help employees achieve their New Year’s resolutions - new frontiers

When the new year rolls around, what kind of person are you? Do you roll your eyes at your peers’ overly ambitious attempts to abolish decades of deeply entrenched habits in the hope of metamorphosing into a new, glossier, 2.0 version of themselves? Or do you cheer them on while dusting yourself off from the overindulgence of the previous month and get busy picking your own shiny goals to hurtle towards?

Whichever person you are, there are a few statistics we’d like to share with you because we think they’ll bring a bit of perspective to the setting of New Year’s resolutions and how you can make them more than just a passing fad at the beginning of the year.

What the data says about New Year’s resolutions

Strava conducted a survey studying over 31.5 million online global activities with regard to the setting and keeping of New Year’s resolutions. Their findings were grim:

  • 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions
  • The 12th January is the date people are most likely to give up on their resolutions
  • The main reasons for failure are a lack of motivation and unrealistic expectations

Now, you could look at those statistics and take them as the evidence you’ve been keenly waiting for never to set a New Year’s resolution again! But business leaders are all about the challenge, so we’re going to guess that you’ve zeroed in on the obvious obstacles here and are already thinking up ways that this problem can be solved. That’s what we’ve been doing, and we think the solution is to bring New Year’s resolutions into the workplace!

Introducing New Year’s Resolutions to the workplace

Ask for feedback from your team

Creating a partnership between work and personal goals could seem daunting at first. You might be wondering whether your team appreciates this new-fangled project of yours or considerate it a hindrance. The best way to find out the answer to that question is to ask. Bord Bia research found that 70% of Irish people would appreciate help with maintaining a healthy diet and less than one-third of us get the correct amount of exercise because we cannot find the time.

How to help your employees achieve their resolutions

There are many ways you can go about helping your team achieve their goals. The methods you pick will be based on what will suit your company best. You could decide to add a few additional activities to the workweek, or you could make smaller but equally effective tweaks to the workday. Alternatively, you could design a whole employee wellness programme!

Deciding which route you’ll take will involve taking some time to think about your budget, assessing how many people you expect to get involved, finding out what their New Year’s resolutions were and determining what kind of activities would benefit them best. Then map out how you imagine these activities will realistically coincide with job tasks and decide who will be in charge of making it all happen. If that sounds like far too much work, don’t worry; no matter how small or comprehensive your approach, we have a few ideas to get you started!

Great resolution ideas you can support all year long

Let’s dive into some ideas for how you can support your team in reaching their goals – not just in January, but all year long!


  • Ditch those pastries packed with saturated fat in meetings and instead think strawberries! Popcorn! Whole-grain sandwiches with low-fat fillings! Parfaits!
  • Combine healthy eating and team building by organising activities such as “Come Dine With Me” style lunches, food tastings, cookery classes and smooth- making competitions.
  • Request an employee discount from your local health-conscious eatery.

Spend more time with friends and family

  • Remote working puts an end to wasted hours spent commuting so your employees can spend more time with the people they love.
  • Offer an automatic day off for three important family events that occur annually.
  • Trial a four-day workweek. New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian reported a 20% increase in productivity when they did it and Pursuit Marketing in Glasgow enjoyed a 30% increase!


  • Incentivise walk-to-work and/or cycle schemes.
  • Set up company sports teams and organise a gym buddy system to get peer pressure working in everyone’s favour!
  • Create a calendar for local fitness events, such as marathons for charity, and encourage people to sign up.

Quit smoking

  • Establish a tobacco-free workplace.
  • Include quit smoking programmes in your wellness initiative with one-to-one coaching or, if your budget can’t stretch to that, make external resources easily available for them.
  • Consider ways you can help employees through the withdrawal period, i.e. exercise regimes, improving diet, stress management.

Read more

  • Hold a monthly book club that people can either participate in after work or during the lunch break.
  • Include a book recommendation in the company newsletter.
  • Invite local authors to speak at your company.

Drink less alcohol

  • Organise alternatives to ‘after-work drinks’ such as movie nights, bowling, going to exhibitions, volunteering, sports training, attending a class, seeking out drink-free events, etc.
  • With your team’s help, set alcohol-free days to reduce the chance of hitting the pub at 5 pm on particularly tempting evenings.

None of these ideas are earth-shattering, but that’s precisely the point! Small changes that are simple to implement and easy to take up are most likely to be successful. If all goes to plan, not only will you have a happier, healthier team by the end of 2020, but you’ll have simultaneously increased job satisfaction and productivity.

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

Corporate Health from horseback rides to health tracking apps

Corporate Health: from horseback rides to health tracking apps

By New Frontiers blog

Corporate Health from horseback rides to health tracking apps

Corporate health and well-being has been around as a concept for a long time. Longer than you might think, in fact. Companies in the USA introduced initiatives to promote health in the workplace as far back as the 1880s. Companies such as The Pullman Company and National Cash Register started with the establishment of an athletic association for employees, and meeting employees before work to go on horseback rides.

These companies went on to implement twice-daily exercise breaks, and building on-site gyms and recreation parks for their employees by the early 1900s. After World War ll, things become more mainstream – with such companies as Texas Instruments, Rockwell and Xerox implementing employee fitness programs. The 1950s saw the emergence in the USA of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) with the aim of avoiding workplace accidents and work-related illness.

Throughout the 1980s, health and safety fell under the same umbrella – with health possibly being safety’s poorer cousin. The focus of this area fell on safety, to the extent where today you can’t even look inside a warehouse without wearing a Hi Vis vest, or load a photocopier with a ream of paper without having first been on a full day manual handling course.

A focus on workplace health

Fortunately, health became just as important as safety, and companies started to look to employee Occupational Health professionals to ensure the health and well-being of their most valuable asset – their employees. Things were starting to change.

In 1984, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe defined health promotion as “…the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health” in addition to methods to change lifestyles.

The ‘first and best known’ definition of health promotion, promulgated by the American Journal of Health Promotion since at least 1986, is, “…the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health.

Today, health promotion officers manage employee health engagement programmes within an organisation. In recent years, these programmes have taken many shapes and forms. Typically, they will have a number of elements focusing on general health, nutrition and mental well-being. Many companies now provide health workshops and health talks around such topics, have health screening and smoking cessation programmes, and promote various forms of physical activity, such as taking part in fun runs and bike rides, usually with a fundraising element attached.

Implementing health programmes in organisations

The promotion of physical activity has generally been somewhat of a difficult element to implement, especially if an organisation has multiple sites and locations across the globe, as it’s impossible to get everyone to turn up for time and location dependent events. To overcome the challenge of trying to get all employees to attend a company health initiative at a given time, date and location, companies have started introducing fitness trackers for employees to engage them in physical activity.

Companies such as BP (British Petroleum) distributed 25,000 Fitbit tracking devices to their staff – the Fitbit wearable fitness tracking device comes as a bracelet or a clip-on option that monitors your steps, calorie intake and burn, and even your sleep pattern. In the USA, employees were able to earn activity points which led to staff discounts on their health insurance. We’ve also seen companies launch pedometer challenges, which is an activity challenge based on the number of steps being completed by each employee, tracked on a mini step counter device clipped onto the body. Today, pedometers are incorporated into most smartphones.

You may wonder why companies spend so much on health initiatives for their employees. It’s been said that healthy, happy employees are good for business, and they are. Employers care about the health of their employees and as their employees are their most valuable assets, they naturally want to protect them and ensure they are healthy and fit. It’s no secret that the health and wellness of employees has a direct effect on an organisation’s ultimate success. Engaging in physical activity is advantageous to the health of the employee, the employer and the organisation as a whole. In fact, managers and supervisors who regularly participate in physical activity have a more positive relationship with subordinates and other employees.

The advantages of a healthy workforce

The benefits of a healthy workforce are well recognised. Evidence shows that employing a physically active workforce can reduce sickness-related absence by up to 20%, increase productivity by up to 15%, improve quality of service and raise the public image of the company. A survey completed by Ibec estimates that it costs every employer in Ireland just over €800 per year in unscheduled absences per employee, with a total cost of nearly €1.5 bn to Irish employers annually.

Organisational benefits

Organisational benefits of a healthy active workforce include:

  • increased productivity
  • increased profits
  • decreased costs due to reduced absenteeism
  • decreased company health care costs
  • improved human resources through better recruitment
  • lower employee turnover
  • improved employee relations
  • lower level of employee stress
  • improved work environment
  • enhanced corporate image

Employees spend a significant amount of time at work. Businesses already have a substantial investment in each worker in terms of recruitment, training, compensation, and benefits packages. Encouraging a culture of physical activity helps to protect that investment and capitalise on the returns in cost savings, cost avoidance, productivity and human capital.

Employee benefits

Engaging in a physically active lifestyle is known to:

  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • reduce tiredness
  • lift moral
  • reduce the risk to various health conditions
  • improve mental well-being
  • improve overall physical fitness & agility

In 2015, we set about solving a problem we had identified with large employers: how to keep their employees healthy and engaged in physical activity all year round. We developed an online platform for employers to engage their employees in their own health through the employees’ existing fitness tracking devices and apps. This BYOD (Bring your own device) system immediately saves the employer the initial capital outlay that is required, in most cases, when an employer wants to get their employees engaged with their own health all year round.

The other issue with trying to run any initiative through fitness tracking devices and apps is convincing all your employees to use the same app or device, and this can be difficult because the people who are most likely to engage with any health initiative are the ones who are already out there being active and using existing tracking apps/devices. Convincing these people to switch to the company’s chosen app/device can be a massive barrier to maximising the participation of the employees.

An activity challenge to raise engagement

We knew that employers where interested in promoting healthy lifestyles to their employees, but how they could engage their employees in healthy activities all year round was the problem we were trying to solve. And we knew that to maximise the participation of the employees, there had to be benefits to both the employer and employee alike. We set about developing a system that had benefits for all – it had to be fun, simple to use and would allow employers to engage, motivate and reward employees for being active, while also being cost effective for the employer to implement.

In association with Sligo Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by From Me2You gift cards, KudosHealth launched a Workplace Activity Challenge. The aim of the challenge was to engage the employees from a group of large employers and organisations in a four week competition based on the physical activities the employees were completing in their own time, such as walking, running, cycling, etc. The secondary aim of the challenge was to discover what motivated employees to take part in workplace challenges.

Over 400 employees took part, representing some of the biggest employers in the region in an inter-firm activity challenge from the 9th Sept to 7th Oct 2016. Employees were able to connect their existing fitness tracking such as Fitbit, Strava, RunKeeper or GoogleFit to the KudosHealth platform to record and register their fitness activities. They were awarded points, and each individual’s points were then averaged out to form the ‘Company Score’ which was then presented on a Company Leader-board.

Employee survey summary

The following charts show the key findings of our survey.

Insights from the survey

One interesting statistic that emerged from the subsequent employee survey was that a staggering 69% of the users who took part said they did it to be part of a team; many users were completing their activities alone or in small groups, but the KudosHealth system allowed the individual activities to contribute to a team score and this was the single biggest reason for taking part.

Another interesting statistic that emerged from the survey is that 54% of the participants had never used a fitness tracking app prior to taking part in the event. The survey results also showed that 93% of people said they would take part in this type of event again, with 60% of the participants answering that they completed more exercise than they normally would during the challenge.

Implementing a workplace well-being initiative can have its challenges, but the rewards for businesses are clear in terms of reduced staff turnover and absence from sickness, a better motivated and happier workforce, and improved teamwork. If you are interested in how the KudosHealth platform could help you get started, we’d be happy to talk you through it.

About the author

KudosHealth Declan Trumble New Frontiers

Declan Trumble

Declan is a New Frontiers alumnus and the co-founder of KudosHealth. The startup has developed an employee health engagement SaaS solution aimed at large employers.

The business idea developed from discussions on how people are motivated to stay healthy, and how employers benefit as much from a person’s health status as they do themselves. The two decided that companies must be interested in motivating their workforce to stay healthy, and this led to discussions on what kind of health initiatives companies implement for their employees, and how they could be made better and more cost-effective.