According to Paul Kelly, chief executive of Fáilte Ireland and winner of this year’s Great Place to Work’s Most Trusted Leader award, supported by TU Dublin, his 400-strong team is more fired up than ever. It’s all down to purpose. When Kelly joined Fáilte Ireland in 2017, having worked at Diageo and Procter & Gamble, one of his top priorities was to ensure all staff had a strong sense of purpose. “Fáilte Ireland’s mission is to help tourism survive and recover, to maximise its contribution to Ireland in a way that is economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable,” he explains. “As an organisation we are not here for the sake of visitors, nor even for the tourism sector, but for the sake of everyone in Ireland.” He believes that establishing a clear sense of purpose helps unleash an organisation’s potential. “When people get that sense of purpose, leaders and managers no longer have to motivate people anymore, they motivate themselves,” says Kelly. Leaders need to help their teams understand their purpose in a wider context.
Yvonne Frost is vice-president of employee experience at Populo. Loyalty, honesty and a willingness to share many lessons learned are hallmarks of Yvonne’s style, making her an easy choice as the 2021 Great Place to Work Ambassador. Yvonne joined Poppulo when the team was less than 10 people and has helped build the organisation into a global leader in internal communications. “I have had to juggle having four small children, while working in a challenging senior role. Without the support from Poppulo and our CEO, that may not have been possible,” says Yvonne. “I have partnered with the Great Place to Work team for over seven years and attribute the scaling of Poppulo’s culture and practices to the quality of that partnership.” Over those years Yvonne has demonstrated a sincere willingness to help other organisations evolve high performance cultures that deliver winning results. Building on her experience in customer success, she and her team take great care in mapping out the employee experience journey, which she speaks openly about. Yvonne believes that any problem can be solved, if you have the right people around the table and engage them in the right way. We at Great Place To Work, thank Yvonne for her contribution to the ever expanding Great Place To Work community of practice and wish her every success.
The Great Place to Work HR Rising Star award is designed to recognise an outstanding achiever within one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces. For any organisation to function well, all functions and levels need to work in concert with each other. HR teams conducted crucial work this year, leading the change and working tirelessly to look after the employee experience. Megan Kelly is one such professional, who underpins the ethos of the work outlined above. Her work in Liferay reflects ongoing and exceptional growth in contribution to the profession and increased levels of leadership, responsibility, and sphere of impact.
The CACI Great Place to Work Team have been dedicated to enhancing its internal culture for a number of years now. The passion of this group is evident through its tireless work across a range of operational areas. By combining employee suggestions with their own ingenuity, they have enacted meaningful change across the areas of wellbeing, collating and implementing best practices, CSR engagements and social activities. This year in particular, the CACI Great Place to Work team have been a lifeline for their peers, devising numerous ways to maintain their close-knit culture in a remote environment. Quizzes, games and virtual drinks are but a sample of the events held. However, the benefits provided by the team’s activities can be felt beyond those in the organisation, with the group devising fundraising initiatives for Alone through bake sales, group exercise activities and more.
For most if not all organisations, restrictions around physical proximity resulted in disruptions to the usual ways of working. Communication and development fit this category well, with both traditionally relying on in-person components to yield the most benefits. Kuehne & Nagel, creative to the core, were always unlikely to let anything stand in the way of their commitment to developing their people. Replacing their traditional careers day with an in-house radio show, it covered topics such as career paths, taking control of your development and the future of work. Interspersing career advice with music, games and awards, the daylong show was broadcast to all employees through speakers set up across sites. Not only did Kuehne & Nagel manage to educate through this initiative but entertain in a truly original fashion.
Supporting wellbeing is not as clear cut as we may like; given the multifaceted nature of the topic, it often holds different meanings to each individual. McAfee, being well aware of this, has provided employees with an incredibly varied, comprehensive range of wellness supports this year. Their holistic approach to employee health includes seven dimensions –emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical, occupational and social wellness. Encapsulated within these dimensions are a diverse range of practices and resources, from tips on working from home while parenting to managing mental health, they provided their staff with a library of useful resources. McAfee also provided their staff with access to a range of classes and activities aimed at supporting wellbeing. Their methodical, multidimensional approach had something on offer to benefit everyone.
Creating a sense of belonging for all employees, regardless of tenure, age or background is a noble endeavour, more prominent than ever amongst many organisations at present. Reaching that goal requires meaningful practices, which give a voice to all employees. Version 1, never shy of innovating, has done just that with its Shadow Board initiative. The Shadow Board is a forum made up of a diverse group of 13 younger members of the Version 1 team, all under the age of 30. This cross-functional group bridge the generational gap in perspectives within the business while working closely with the senior leadership team. This initiative not only offers diversity of viewpoints but provides an excellent development opportunity for board members, who are supported by mentoring and coaching from senior leadership members.
To be named Most Trusted Leader is a serious accolade, but Declan Ronayne, chief executive of Woodie's, is adamant it isn't just a personal honour. "I have to say that the award for Most Trusted Leader for Woodie's is about more than 200 leaders in our business. It's not just me," he insists. Leadership has been a focus within the DIY giant in recent years, and Ronayne believes the recent award is ample recognition of the work that has gone into the quality of the organisation's leadership. "We are a very firmly embedded Great Place to Work, it's very much a focus for us. Having been there four years in a row, we are by far and away leading retailer, and a lot of that is because we have such good leaders within the organisation," he says.
This award acknowledges an individual who has a deep understanding of the Great Place to Work model and methodology, is a champion in helping his own organisation create and sustain a great workplace, and contributes to the Great Place to Work community. Jarlath Dooley is HR & Integration Director at Version 1 and has been integral in driving a high trust, high performance culture within the organisation. His focus on sustained success and understanding of how to drive data and feedback into action means he plays a key role in ensuring that Version 1 is consistently delivering for employees, customers and as a business overall. Embedding the Great Place to Work model through periods of rapid organisational growth takes commitment, constant communication and authenticity. Jarlath has demonstrated this commitment by acting on feedback and empowering employees to thrive and develop. Jarlath has also been central to establishing Version 1 as a top employer brand within the increasingly competitive Irish talent market. This manifests, among other things, in The DNA of Version 1, with the telling tagline: “A great place to work, not an ‘easy’ place to work.”
Creating a Listening Ecosystem
Over the last number of years, Esri Ireland has established a GPTW Team that have developed a range of practices within the business to drive their internal culture. Based on direct feedback to the team and wider input from the survey, they have set about establishing a number of initiatives from Thank You Days and Suggestion Boxes, to Salary Surveys and additional access to academic and industry research. Not only this, but the GPTW Team also have a dedicated “Great Place to Work Official Celebration Day”. In a fun, relaxed setting, the entire organisation comes together and the Trust Index Survey and Culture Audit results are shared. Updates on the various actions already taken, as well as those planned for the future, are showcased. Finally, feedback is welcomed to ensure that the measures being put in place make sense for employees. Driving trust levels year on year has worked as this strong GPTW Team, senior management, and the organisation overall work in concert with each other.
Increasingly, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices are distinguishing the Best Workplaces from those which have less concern for sustainable practices, employee relations and community engagement. CSR practices that are embedded as a genuine part of a company’s values and operations can help enhance the company’s profile and competitiveness. The Morgan McKinley Million stands out for the way it brings together global and location initiatives, the scope for collective causes and, crucially, at its core is employee-led. Established in 2016, the challenge set by Morgan McKinley as an organisation was to contribute the equivalent of a million euros to charities and worthy causes across their global footprint of offices. In raising money for charities all over the world, big and small, fundraising events have included colleagues, clients and candidates. Employees have donated their time through volunteering and expertise in a number of ways, including helping disadvantaged young people in their careers. Capturing such extensive commitment under one central brand distinguishes the work being done by Morgan McKinley, and the drive by employees to take part with everything from bake sales to marathons underpins the spirit of the campaign overall.
Trends in demographics are changing the workforce as we know it, and the best organisations keep their finger on the pulse as to the makeup of their employees at all times. Over the last year, Regeneron noticed an increasing number of employees starting or adding to their families. While this is not unusual, their response stood out. The team in Regeneron worked with their healthcare provider to offer a series of nurse/midwife-led seminars on the birth process, newborn and infant care for both current and expectant mothers and fathers. In addition to the lecture series, they provided a bespoke midwife service covering home visits, telephone support and early care information offered at the convenience of employees. A midwife meets the expectant parents at the time and location of their choosing, with one visit prior to the birth and two visits provided for antenatal care.
Building and maintaining strong teams within any environment is a challenging task. Supporting cross-team collaboration is critical to this, as uniting experts from a variety of teams and departments leads to fresh perspectives, faster innovation and fosters a learning mindset. Organisations often want to drive team performance, but limit recognition to individual success. In Asana, at their ‘All Hands’ event, they have a simple, yet effective practice to recognise and celebrate team level success. ‘Transfer the Flag’ sees one team hand over the flag to a new team who have displayed great collaboration and contributions to a broader effort. Not only does this bring an innovative aspect to the ‘All Hands’, it is a fun and visible way for teams to rally around each other, celebrating another team outside of their own.
The ‘Future of Work’ appears to have become a catch all phrase for everything from gig working, AI and robots, to business adaptability, organisational agility and individual autonomy. Against this backdrop, organisations are being challenged to keep their work environments apace with this change. This year Stelfox have introduced a number of measures demonstrating a commitment to work-life balance, most notably a move towards a 4-day week. This move is underpinned by ensuring long term, sustained success for employees and the organisation. When employees hit their targets two months in a row and as long as they continue to do so, they can move to a 4-day week. This is also available to support and non-billing staff, whose ability to access a 4-day week is also unlocked based on their performance and objectives. A clear metric and transparency are key to the success of such practices, both of which have been displayed by Stelfox.