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Irish HR community comes together at the HR Awards 2021

HR sector recognised for helping Irish industry navigate challenging period

The 2021 HR Awards celebrated a sector that was crucial in adapting to, and facilitating, the “new normal” of the pandemic across the workplace. Having faced a challenging year, HR leaders from across the country gathered to celebrate their many accomplishments across the 18 prestigious awards handed out on November 18th.

With over 39 companies represented at the Awards, the winners were announced during a hybrid event with a live audience in attendance at Clontarf Castle, and others attending an interactive virtual ceremony which was hosted by broadcaster and comedian Colm O’Regan.

Now in their seventh year, the Awards were supported by leading suppliers and organisations from the sector. Maureen Walsh, managing director of sponsor, DeCare said; “We were delighted to continue our sponsorship of the HR Awards for 2021. Because we work closely within this sector we understand how exceptionally challenging it has been this year for everyone in so many ways. It was inspiring to listen to all the innovations and positive changes the finalists had made in their organisations, and how the event adapted to the times to deliver a safe and engaging event. Congratulations to all involved and a special well done to the winners.”

One of this year’s winners was the Ireland East Hospital Group. Group director, Roseanne Killeen said; “We were delighted to accept the award for best public sector HR Initiative for our role in the agile recruitment strategy to resource our vaccination centres. To date, IEHG has administered 1.6m vaccine doses, 21 per cent of the national total, to protect the people we serve. This award recognises the work of HR and its pivotal role in the delivery of the vaccination programme.”


Compliance and Risks joined this year’s winners with their head of HR, Sandra Coombes saying; “Our Connected Workplace Policy supports our business in terms of inclusiveness, connectedness, collaboration and communication. We work across different countries and time zones but no matter where you work, our aim is to make everyone feel part of the team.”

Taxback Group’s Rachael O’Shea said: “While this year has had many challenges, it has also given us the opportunity to shake things up and bring about new positive changes that support collaboration and innovation, while continuing to promote our #OneTeam Culture.”

The addition of a full online broadcast of the live event has added a new dimension to the awards ceremony. Because of this, entrants to the awards can now receive comprehensive video collateral of their engagement on the night which is of huge value in their own social media communications activity. Judges feedback reports are now available, and they give finalists information on how their entries faired against their competitors. These reports provide insights on where improvements are needed to win more consistently at the awards.

The full list of the 2021 winners is:

Most Innovative Use of Technology

Winner: HSeLanD & Aurion Learning

Most Effective Use of Internal Communications

Winner: Communicating with our People - Bus Éireann

Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy

Winner: Ervia

Graduate Training Programme of the Year

Winner: Health Products Regulatory Authority

Best Learning & Development Strategy

Winner: Reaching Potential – Depaul

Best Use of CSR in HR

Winner: Clune Tech

Best Change Management Programme

Winner: Pathways – Unleash Your Potential - Version 1

Best Workplace Diversity Strategy

Winner: Beckman Coulter Ireland

Best Public Sector HR Initiative

Winner: Ireland East Hospital Group, HSE

Best Crisis Management Strategy

Winner: Department of Foreign Affairs

Best Flexible Working Strategy

Winner: Compliance and Risks

Best Employer Branding Programme

Winner: Branding throughout the employee lifecycle - SIRO

Best Health & Wellbeing Strategy (sponsored by DeCare Dental)

Winner: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body…Happy You - Cornmarket

Best Health & Wellbeing Strategy - Large Organisation

Winner: TELUS International

HR Manager of the Year (sponsored by Softworks Workforce Management Solutions)

Winner: Michelle Gaffney - Clune Tech

HR Team of the Year (sponsored by Softworks Workforce Management Solutions)

Winner: Woodie's

HR Leader 2021

Winner: Lisa Finnegan

Overall Excellence in HR

Winner: Beckman Coulter Ireland

The 2021 judging panel was comprised of:

  • Edel Conway (head judge), professor in HRM & Organisational Psychology, DCU Business School
  • Michelle Abbey, HRD Corporate & Business Services/Global HR Transformation director, Glanbia Plc
  • Dr. Sinéad Brennan, chief people officer, NTMA
  • Dermot Clynes, head of organisation development, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Jonny Cooper, people and change manager, KPMG Ireland
  • Colette Darcy, dean, School of Business, National College of Ireland
  • Na Fu, associate professor in Human Resource Management, Trinity College Dublin
  • Aidan Harney, leadership, talent & OD manager (Greater Europe Region), Intel Corporation
  • Rosarii Mannion, HR leader & practitioner
  • Anthony McDonnell, professor of human resource management, Cork University Business School, UCC
  • Niamh McGarty, senior talent & development manager, Vodafone
  • Dr. Sharon McGreevy, lecturer in Strategic HRM & programme chair, MA Business in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, IADT
  • Dr. Ciara Nolan, lecturer in Management, Technological University Dublin
  • Dr. Maeve O'Sullivan, MSc HRM programme director, University College Cork
  • Yvonne O'Sullivan, HR director, Ardmac Ltd