WEA entrants set on the 'write' track at breakfast workshop

Pictured at the WEA entry-writing workshop are (from left) Irish News marketing manager John Brolly, Julie Thompson from KPMG, Elaine McGibbon (Danske Bank) and Rebecca Carvill (HR executive at BlkBox Fitness). Photos: Declan Roughan
Gary McDonald Business Editor

COMPANIES and organisations intending to submit an entry to this year's Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards by the May 3 deadline have taken part in a special 'How to Write a Winning Entry' workshop hosted at KPMG's Belfast headquarters.

Representatives from more than 40 potential entrants attended the breakfast briefing, where they received invaluable tips, advice and words of wisdom from two past winners, a leading PR professional and one of the judging panel.

The awards, now in their 13th year, take place in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 13, and are being supported by business partners Carson McDowell, The Public Health Agency, Henderson Group, Queen's University, Miller Hospitality, KPMG, Progressive Building Society and venue Titanic Belfast.

Addressing the entry-writing workshop were Christina McCloskey from law firm Baker McKenzie, a double winner last year of Right Place to Work for large/medium firms) and Workplace Wellbeing (large category) and Karen Fullerton from fit-out company Portview, which in 2018 scooped the Workplace Wellbeing (medium) accolade.

Other submissions came from Sinead Doyle, head of consumer PR at MCE Public Relations, and Irish News business editor Gary McDonald.

All four outlined their own particular tips on constructing an entry which will catch the eye of the judges when they meet under the chairmanship of Ellvena Graham next month to come up with the various winners.

As part of their presentations, Christina and Karen spoke in glowing terms of the impact winning a Workplace & Employment Award had on their particular companies.

Christina said: “Winning our two Irish News WEA awards last year has ensured that the Northern Ireland public are becoming increasingly aware of who we are in Baker McKenzie and what we stand for, helping us to compete for talent in a tight market.

"Even just by entering, we were able to introduce structure into a lot of our initiatives and reflect on what we were doing well and areas in which we could strive to do better.”

Karen added: “Winning a Workplace and Employment Award is a testament of how we genuinely care for the welfare and happiness of our employees.

"This has not only put us on the map as one of Northern Ireland's best companies to work for, but has also helped to attract new talent as well as retain existing. We cannot recommend these awards enough!”

:: Entries for the 2019 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards will remain open until Friday May 3, with the finalists being announced on Thursday May 16. More details at Follow us on Twitter at @irishnewsWEA


Sinead's top tips

:: Time management: We recommend allowing a six-week window in terms of planning, developing and polishing your entry, with the entry deadline is May 3, so don't delay. Start the process and keep the momentum up.

:: Don't leave anything unexplained: presume the judges know nothing: imagine you're explaining your business to someone that has no knowledge of what you do, whatsoever.

:: A second pair of eyes: Get someone else to fact-check, proof and edit your entry – sometimes you will not spot your own mistakes.

Christina's top tips

:: Structure: Your biggest challenge is likely to be structuring the entry to showcase all the brilliant work you're already doing, so introducing a framework can be a great way to ensure you capture everything

:: Show off your organisation: You may wish to treat your entry like a pitch - imagine it's your chance to show your senior leadership exactly what you've been doing and to gain their buy-in

:: Look at the bigger picture first: think of your overall organisational strategy and how whatever you're going to showcase fits in to that.

Karen's top tips

:: Make your application stand out - A lot of organisations have a health & wellbeing strategy. What makes yours different? Showcase your innovation & creativity & culture.

:: A picture can paint a thousand words - If your teams have jumped out of planes, learned to drum or attended creative team building sessions, get their photos into the application.

:: Provide evidence to support your application - Some powerful tools for this are client and team testimonials, quotes from professional governing bodies such as the CIPD and of course statistics collected in house.

Gary's top tips

:: Angle - A clear story will stand out. Start with an opener that sets the scene and think about the wider picture.

:: Impact: Include quantitative figures and qualitative anecdotes plus include graphs in your appendices to back up what you have claimed.

:: The here and now: These are the 2019 Awards. So detail what have you done in the last year - not in 2017 or 2016.

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