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Tech organisations doing great things on the global stage

‘We’re building ... human connection for leading global brands – that starts with our own’

Niamh Graham:  Businesses have never been as focused on retaining top talent and keeping their humans happy.

Niamh Graham: Businesses have never been as focused on retaining top talent and keeping their humans happy.


With more than five million users on its platform across 180 countries, senior vice-president of Global Human Experience at Workhuman Niamh Graham explains how the company has made its way onto the global stage.

“When our CEO [chief executive] Eric Mosley came up with the idea for Workhuman – originally started in 1999 as GloboGift – the vision was a global gift giving service. Businesses quickly began utilising GloboGift’s tech platform for incentives and recognition for their employees, so the company pivoted and started to innovate around the concept of recognition and the impact it could have on organisational culture, management, and community. GloboGift became Globoforce, which then became Workhuman in 2019,” she says.

Shortly after Workhuman was founded, the company started to win the business of large US organisations and as this momentum continued, a second headquarters in Massachusetts was established.

“Over the years, we’ve fleshed out the solutions in the Workhuman Cloud – social recognition, continuous performance management, and modules that celebrate the whole human – and adoption of these solutions has been incredible. Workhuman now has more than five million users on its platform across 180 countries.

“Since our inception, the need for humanity in the workplace has accelerated and become a business imperative vs 20 years ago when recognition was simply just a “nice to have”. We’ve worked with companies around the world to build human workplaces that put a business’s most valuable asset – their humans – at the centre of operations, where they should be. Our continued growth is a sign that organisations are craving a way to build better relationships and foster trust with their employees, no matter where they are,” she says.

Businesses have never been as focused on retaining top talent and keeping their humans happy as they are now, and every company that has humans working for them has a responsibility to build a culture of humanity, Graham says.

“Workhuman research has found that when somebody receives more than five formal “thank you” moments in a year – which they can do through our social recognition platform – their propensity to leave is cut in half, from about 15 per cent to 7 per cent. Social recognition is a modern approach to employee recognition and creates a culture of thanks by engaging employees in a fun, social, and easy-to-use recognition experience,” she says.

Innovation, determination, imagination and respect are key words at Workhuman. “We’re building cultures of recognition, celebration and human connection for leading global brands – and that starts with our own. Here, we celebrate the whole human – not just what you bring to the office but all the things that make you unique. We are our own biggest customers, so taking the time to say thank you, to celebrate special life moments and to have meaningful conversations is a part of our every day work environment. This helps us to maintain a connected global culture as we continue to grow and navigate exciting new challenges. We are connected by our shared purpose and we love what we do because we’re creating a better future for the workplace – and beyond – through our technology and our people,” Graham concludes.

The Irish angle

One Irish company that has been very vocal in its views on measuring success and what it wants to be known for “at home” in Ireland is the leading technology and digital transformation provider Version 1. With the recent announcement of its 11th acquisition of the Belfast digital services specialist Neueda, Version 1 has expanded rapidly through strategic organic and acquisitive growth to become a trusted technology partner to major domestic and international customers across all industry sectors.

Version 1 was founded in 1996 by Justin Keatinge and John Mullen and is today one of the top employers of technologists in Ireland, with a workforce that consistently rates the company culture highly in independent surveys.

Version 1 has for a long time been a trailblazer in terms of building a positive environment and culture that allows employees to thrive – and that is why it has been recognised as one of the best large workplaces to work for 10 years in a row by Great Place to Work.

Chief executive Tom O’Connor explains the unique operational model the business has built, explaining that “each side feeds into each other, because the three are absolutely interrelated. If our people feel empowered, then they go the extra mile for our customers. If our customers see that we’re delivering for them, they’re loyal to us, and they give us more business. More business means we have more money, more profits, and we can invest in bringing in more people, or more acquisitions or innovating more. And it just keeps continuing.”

However, O’Connor says that the achievement Version 1 wants to go down in Irish business history for is all in the balance the business achieves. “Our proudest achievement is our ability to maintain a balance across all three sides of the strategic triangle that you see in our logo – our people, our customers and our business performance and profitability. What really differentiates us is that we see no one side as more important than any other. That’s very unusual, because what we’re really saying here is that our employees are just as important as our profitability. It’s very simple as a concept, but it’s also quite revolutionary in its attitude to say we will choose to invest more in our people or in our customers than in ourselves or in our organisation if that’s the right thing to do to keep our strategic triangle in balance.”

The approach works exceptionally well for the technology and digital transformation provider. It has led to a 98.5 per cent customer retention rate, leading to its growth in profitability – and that profit is again invested in the company and its people. In fact, the organisation shares about 20 per cent of its profits every quarter with its employees through its employee profit share scheme.

“Don’t get me wrong, maintaining this level of balance isn’t easy or for the faint hearted. This is where our core values come into play – we hire, develop, trust, and empower people who are wired to deliver success across all areas of our business. Those looking for a short-term result or an easier road to success might sacrifice one area for another but at Version 1 we never have, and never will,” he adds.