A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Great Place to Work: Special Award winners announced

The 6 firms who were recognised for their unique contributions to worklife

Evening panorama of the River Liffey with some of Dublin's tallest structures (Ulster Bank Towers, Liberty Hall and Dublin Spire) on view.

Evening panorama of the River Liffey with some of Dublin's tallest structures (Ulster Bank Towers, Liberty Hall and Dublin Spire) on view.


Living and breathing your values

Organisational values drive how employees work together to achieve results, interact with each other, and best service the customer or client. Many organisations have identified values, but the challenge lies in translating them from words on a website to a lived experience for all employees.

Informatica brought their values to life during a week long event to celebrate their 25th anniversary. A range of events took place, based around their five core values:

  1. Do Good Monday
    Informatica “Do Good” by giving back to local communities. The Corporate Social Responsibility team in the Dublin office cooked up a breakfast for all employees with donations going to St Francis Hospice.
  2. Act as One Team Tuesday
    Informatica “Act as One Team” by working together as a high-performing family. Each office and all remote employees were given the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt, designed to bring together the entire Informatica global community.
  3. Think Customer First Wednesday
    The company has a “Think Customer-First” approach in all that they do. Each location held coffee sessions where customer success stories were featured for all employees to gain an insight into the impact Informatica’s products have had .
  4. Aspire for the Future Thursday
    They “Aspire for the Future” through innovation, hosting an Idea-a-Thon event for all employees to get into teams and submit an idea – with a prize of €5,000 awarded to the winning team.
  5. Orange Friday
    To conclude We DATA, a global celebration took place where Informatica employees were encouraged to wear their culture on their sleeves and their values with pride as they celebrated Informatica’s 25 years of data innovation. The Dublin office was decked out in orange, the corporate brand.


Energising employees for the year ahead

As part of their kick-off for the Employee 2019 financial year, Poppulo communicated a campaign around “We are Poppulo” ,which effectively means “we are people”. They wanted, primarily, to inspire their employees for the coming year in Poppulo as they stepped into their next phase of growth. They also wanted to mark the start of this new phase with a new year kick-off that was a little different to previous years.

The artwork for “We are Poppulo” was designed by their own designer Brian Wallace. They wanted the artwork for the campaign to be creative and artistic in style, something that would create impact, would work well on a t-shirt/hoodie and be something that their employees would wear with pride outside of work.

As part of the launch they created a five-page card that reminded their employees of all that they had achieved together over the past 12 months. Instead of just listing the achievements, they asked the company leaders to add some context to those achievements by providing their perspective on those achievements. The card ended with a note from their CEO thanking each employee for their contributions in 2018.

Inspired employees inspiring others

In July 2018, all 1,400 Woodie’s colleagues across Ireland raised much needed funds for four major children’s charities through a vast array of activities; with colleagues, friends, customers and suppliers in and out of the workplace all putting in a tremendous effort to “Raise a Smile”.

As part of their fundraising activities, Woodie’s choir and Irish band Wild Youth – having secured permission – recorded the Foofighters’ track My Hero. A 50-strong Woodie’s choir joined Wild Youth in Westland Studios.

A team of employees cycled around to each of Woodie’s 35 stores to collect the funds raised. After a week of cycling around the country, totalling a gruelling 1,600 kilometre, the 36 strong posse of cyclists arrived at Woodie’s office in Tallagh.

This year they hit well over the one million euro milestone. Temple Street, Down Syndrome Ireland, Make- A-Wish and Jack and Jill are the four deserving charities that will benefit from all the hard work from the colleagues, customers, friends and families of Woodie’s in 2018.

An interview process designed to excite


Traditional interviews –when you ask candidates about their skills and experience to see if they’re a fit for the job – have been the industry standard for decades. However, new interviewing tools and techniques are constantly entering the scene, and MSD’s whiteboard exercise stood out.

This is a less formal approach where the candidate is briefed on the process several days in advance of the meeting, allowing them to fully prepare. They receive this brief verbally which is subsequently followed by a soft copy of the candidate brief.

On the day of the whiteboard exercise they have 30 minutes to prepare their whiteboard to tell their story. The company then joins the candidate where they will then go through their story. Once they have listened to the candidate’s story, MSD will ask specific questions relating to the required competencies. This is a new and energised approach to create rapport between a job candidate and the company at the interview stage.

Ambassador Award: Leading and inspiring change


Winner: Caroline McClafferty, AbbVie

This award recognizes an individual who has embedded the Great Place to Work model within their organisation to drive sustainable improvement to their culture. In January 2013, Caroline McClafferty took on the Country HR Director role for AbbVie Ireland, when AbbVie was established as an independent company. In July 2017, Caroline assumed her current role as director of operations business HR, supporting European operation and global manufacturing services.

Caroline has played a key role in establishing AbbVie as a top employer brand within Ireland that has high trust cultures across all AbbVie sites. Demonstrating her commitment to supporting and highlighting AbbVie’s unique company culture, Caroline challenges the organisation to constantly raise the bar, to create the best working environment possible for each of their employees, enabling them to thrive and develop.

Great Place to Work Team award: Embedding culture from within

Avantcard setup an Internal Working Team

A key element to creating a Great Place to Work is to establish a team of passionate and committed people who work together to make improvements to the culture. Avantcard setup an Internal Working Team who played a pivotal role in the improvements they made to their culture across communication, engagement and wellbeing.

The improvements in trust levels has been significant year on year and these improvements can be attributed to senior management, HR and Avantcard internal working team operating in tandem with each other.