Sponsored content is premium paid-for content produced by the Irish Times Content Studio on behalf of commercial clients. The Irish Times newsroom or other editorial departments are not involved in the production of sponsored content.

The right formula for a great workplace

Biopharmaceutical company AbbVie has been named Ireland’s number one large workplace by the Great Place to Work Institute

Global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie has been named Ireland's number one large workplace for the second time in the last three years by the Great Place to Work Institute. AbbVie employs more than 700 people at five manufacturing and commercial sites across Ireland. In addition to two manufacturing plants in Sligo and one in Cork, the company's commercial headquarters is based in Dublin, as is a separate international manufacturing and engineering services centre.

The company has been listed among the best large workplaces in Ireland in each of the past seven years and ranked in the top three companies for the past five. The company's ranking reflects a continued focus on talent development, equality diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing initiatives, according to AbbVie country HR director Samantha Commons. "It also reflects efforts to provide employees with meaningful opportunities to engage with their local communities through science education and volunteering projects."

Chief among these volunteering initiatives is the annual Week of Possibilities, which is now in its seventh year. The week-long initiative is the company’s signature volunteering programme globally and sees employees work with local non-profit partners to help make a difference in communities. Last year, almost 150 AbbVie employees from the company’s medical devices centre in Ballytivnan, Co Sligo, and their pharmaceutical plant on the Manorhamilton Road contributed close to 650 hours to help refurbish a science lab and other key areas of the community school.

Back to School for Stem

In October of last year, AbbVie launched its Back to School for Stem programme, a schools’ outreach which promotes the job opportunities widely available in Ireland for those holding Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) qualifications. Employees from AbbVie’s five Irish offices and manufacturing plants will visit schools, including those they studied at themselves, to talk about the difference those working in Stem can make for wider society.


In the sponsorship arena, the company recently announced a three-year sponsorship of Sligo Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA). The arrangement will see the AbbVie logo appear on the senior ladies' football team jerseys until the end of the 2022. The partnership provides the Sligo LGFA with much-needed funding to help develop and grow the ladies game throughout the county.

The award reflects a long-running commitment to create and maintain a high-performing company culture, says Commons. “It demonstrates the ambition, drive and passion of our employees across Ireland to make an impact on patients’ lives around the world.”

AbbVie was also recognised as one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces for Women for the second year in a row. “AbbVie strives to create an inclusive culture where all employees are treated equally, with dignity and respect,” Commons says. “Our Women Leaders in Action group provides practical learning and growth opportunities for members at our five sites across Ireland – helping them take charge of their career journeys and achieve their full potential.

“One of our more recent initiatives is the creation of a new and expectant mothers’ forum,” she continues. “It provides opportunities for female employees to share common experiences, seek advice and help shape and improve associated policies. Such is the success of the initiative, it is now being expanded to include all parents in the spirit of inclusivity.”

The company has also been awarded the Ibec KeepWell Mark. The award is an evidence-based accreditation given for Irish employers who significantly invest in workplace health and wellbeing.

Employee health and wellbeing

The company co-ordinates its approach to employee health and wellbeing through its AbbVie Vitality programme. The programme includes resources and tools which encourage a holistic approach to health and its success has been based on the company providing organisational support for employees to proactively manage their personal wellbeing. Activities have included a wide range of initiatives focused on enhancing employees’ physical health and the prevention of illness, as well as seeking to improve mental and psychosocial wellbeing.

The company continuously looks for ways to help its people balance their work and personal lives, according to AbbVie occupational nurse and Vitality programme lead Miriam Cunningham. "We have improved and coordinated a number of wellness projects over the past number of years so that we can create a safe, secure and pleasant working environment for all of our people. The Ibec KeepWell Mark provides us with a fantastic evidence-based framework, enabling us not only to benchmark our wellness initiatives against our peers, but also helping us to progress in areas that provide the most impact for our people and business."

“Appearing on the list of Best Workplaces in Ireland is a massive achievement and has provided a great platform for organisations to differentiate themselves both externally and internally as employers of choice,” says Cathal Divilly, partner at Great Place to Work Ireland. “While attractive benefit packages will go some way towards employee satisfaction, the companies on this year’s list have realised that their unique and distinctive cultures are what will mark them out in a crowded market.”

External recognition for the efforts of staff members is especially pleasing for Samantha Commons. “The number one ranking and Best Workplace for Women award are clear endorsements of the fantastic work our people are doing in bringing AbbVie’s unique company culture to life.”