Antrim firm SAM puts their staff's health first

‘WELLBEING’ has become a buzzword in the workplace today, and for good reason.

Most employers now acknowledge that their duty of care, and the benefits they need to offer to attract a top-class workforce, go beyond a pay check and 9 to 5.

So what can workplaces do to put their staff first?

SAM, the Antrim-based MDF mouldings producer, wanted to do just that, so signed up to Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s Work Well Live Well programme.

Work Well Live Well is a free health and wellbeing support service run by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke and funded by the Public Health Agency.

The NICHS Work Well Live Well team support organisations to identify the health risks that are most relevant to their staff, and work with them to create and deliver a bespoke three-year action plan.

Initiatives can be as simple as greater access to healthy snacks, health talks for staff or incentivised exercise, but the programme also concentrates on providing resources, training and networking opportunities to help improve staff health in areas such as mental health and sleep, managing stress and reducing risk factors associated with heart disease.

Shauna McErlain, HR Manager at SAM, explains why the organisation signed up - and the benefits they have experienced so far.

“The health and wellbeing of our employees has always been a priority at SAM,” she said.

“At the height of the pandemic, the NI Chest Heart and Stroke team approached us about the Work Well Live Well programme. We felt that this was the perfect opportunity and time to help us put an action plan in place to improve the overall wellbeing of our workforce, both physically and mentally.

“The programme gave us the resources to ascertain which health areas our employees were most interested in gaining more knowledge. The NICHS team were very helpful in assisting us with developing our three-year action plan.

“We received Health Champion training for staff and all our health champions are really enjoying their roles.

“We’ve had great uptake from our workforce in the initiatives we have organised so far, which have included providing fresh fruit, healthy breakfasts, nutrition talks, step challenges, sports days, cancer awareness talks, mental health training and taking part in Movember to raise awareness of men’s health. We plan to continue rolling out these types of initiatives in future thanks to the help from the Work Well Live Well programme.”

Shauna and her colleagues have been guided by the expertise of Stephanie Allen, Workplace Health and Wellbeing Coordinator for the Northern Trust Area from Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, to put health first across the organisation.

“SAM have showed great commitment to improving staff health and wellbeing in the workplace,” said Stephanie.

“My role has involved supporting their Health Champions to develop their own action plan based on the results of a survey distributed to staff to assess what they wanted the plan to focus on. A wide range of activities have been delivered over the last year, with the Health Champions showing lots of motivation and enthusiasm to make staff health and wellbeing a priority and I'm really looking forward to working with them on the next stage of the action plan for year 2 of the programme.”

Register your workplace for Work Well Live Well at or email

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Alpha Newspaper Group

Characters left: 1500