The World’s a Stage - why not get on it !? Learnings in applying for HR Awards

Last Friday night served up one of the highlights of my career at PepTalk to date, when one of our longest standing client partners were recognised by the HR community as being Champions in the Wellbeing space.

And you know what? Despite the mid-dinner nerves, the rehashing of the submission, the judges interviews and our general awe at the other shortlisted companies … it wasn’t surprising to see Littlewoods Ireland (Shop Direct Ireland) pick up that crystal heavyweight !

Not being brash, but it wasn’t a total shock to us, after all, we’re talking about a massively comprehensive programme for a relatively small team, a leadership team that view’s employee wellbeing as core to business, an HR Manager who embraced and stretched the programme at all times (that’s you, Louise O’Brien) and most of all a group of employees who engage in a way that makes the programme a meaningful success.

I haven’t been involved in any kind of HR, engagement or wellbeing awards before. As an award newbie, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to share some observations and learnings from my small part in the process.


  • Recognition - pure and simple, and for multiple stakeholders! From the HR perspective, there is no doubt that being hailed as a award winner in the area of wellbeing is really attractive for candidates (in fact the research tells us that). On a personal level, an award to your name is certainly no harm if you are the person knee deep in the submission. Even better, we saw countless examples of teams of employees, both working on initiatives as part of their day job, and those who take on an extra tasks outside their area of expertise, having a moment to shine and take the stage for their successful hard work.

  • The right awards - both of our feelings on the HR Champion Awards was that the ‘story’ format made this an interesting one to go for. With the HR Champion Awards, there was a specific wellbeing category. The process involved the typical written submission, but also a face-to-face interview and a chance to speak about your wellbeing strategy on the night. Wellbeing strategy is something that is best brought to life by talking about the people behind the metrics, the learnings behind the strategy and the team behind the programme.


  • There’s always a cost:benefit analysis to be done when something is going to take a little extra time, energy and (potentially) money. Is there a ‘right’ reason or a ‘wrong’ reason to enter? I don’t know, but it’s worth weighing up those costs against the potential pay-offs.


(1) The First’s the Worst!

From working with Louise O’Brien to pass on the information she needed to pull together the awards submission, I can confirm there is definitely work involved in that aspect. You know what’s really time consuming? Cutting back on all the stuff you want to say! No matter how much you have the metrics and survey results to hand or the programme detail laid out, which Littlewoods Ireland did, there is still a job in presenting it for judge to make sense of the strategy and the impact. But when you’ve done it once, I hear the second time’s a doddle ;)

(2) Putting your best foot forward

My observation here is that the submission is just like an interview or exam in terms of putting your best foot forward. That’s what the judges want and are genuinely willing you to do - to uncover and highlight to good stuff and the positive impact. Yes, there might be challenges and things you’d do differently, but that’s all part of the story and how you can move forward with whatever initiative you’re promoting.

(3) Learnings from others

What a forum for picking up ideas and tips and in a very real way understanding ‘what has worked’ for other organisations! At the HR Champion Awards, as each speaker shared the meaty stuff behind their win, we picked up gems around change management, CSR strategy, engagement initiatives and so much more! My phone notes were a couple of pages long ... now to implement them.

(4) See your programme & stats in a new light

Yes, we track and measure our programmes on a constant basis for our clients. Yet, there is something about presenting it for an external review that shapes new thoughts and ideas and helps you see areas where there is potential to do more or do better.

(5) Hearing from all sides

Testimonials are a key part of the submission process and sometimes you might have to seek these from sources that you may not have discussed your initiative with before or at a different level of depth or a with different lens. For example, What does the CEO think of the work? How do external stakeholders view your programme? It can be eye-opening and affirming to know the answers to these questions!

(6) A chance to kick back and celebrate!

About our friends at Littlewoods :

To find out more about Littlewoods Ireland or shop the site <click here>

To follow them on linked-in & hear about awesome job openings <click here>

About the HR Champion awards :

To find out more about award categories and how to enter <click here>

Ailis McSweeney

Chief of client success @ PepTalk

Let's make work better …

At PepTalk, engagement is at the heart of all our wellbeing platform. Our platform is about energy, passion and fun while being grounded in key business outcomes.

To find out more about this area and our wider PepTalk offering book a demonstration at or email

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