The Great Place to Work Special Awards are out

Since most of us have to work in some capacity or other, whether in an office or out in the world, it’s important to find a company that is values-aligned, cares for their employees and seeks to improve their working lives in large and small ways.

The Great Place to Work Special Award looks at workplaces from a variety of angles, and recognises companies that offer the best to their employees – from culture to commitment and everything in between.

Team Award: CluneTech
Kilkenny-based CluneTech has won the Team Award due in large part to their Great Place to Work team, which consists of volunteers from all areas across the group. Essentially, they are the voice of the employees, ensuring that their views are brought to management. Their aim is to promote positive change through a happier work environment, both now and in the future.

One of their key focus areas is to improve employee benefits so that CluneTech can both attract and retain top talent. Following the success of last year’s 21 Questions: Meet the CEO Series, it was evident that there’s an appetite for this style of video. So when it came to promoting the Great Place to Work Team and placing them centre stage, they decided to run a similar campaign: Meet the Great Place to Work Team.

The campaign was shared on Workvivo and consisted of one video per Team Member. To have some level of consistency, each video answered a set of questions such as, “What do you love about being a GPTW rep?”, “What’s been your favourite improvement to date?”, and “Why is CluneTech a Great Place to Work?”.

Overall, the campaign received positive feedback, reached a total of 1,053 people, and received 2,034 impressions. CluneTech has proven to go above and beyond to ensure employees are aware that there are supports in place for them.

“To promote positive change through a happier work environment for today and the future, CluneTech’s Great Place to Work team have been dedicated to improving internal communication between employees as well as improving employee benefits,” says Alice Vigneron, marketing coordinator at Great Place to Work Ireland.

“In an increasingly disconnected hybrid working environment, promoting collaboration and communication among teams leads to better problem-solving and improved work performance. Additionally, connecting employees in a hybrid environment allows for more flexibility in scheduling, which can help to increase productivity and mental health. Finally, it helps to create a sense of community and belonging, which can increase job satisfaction and morale.”

Storytelling Award: Midlands Park Hotel
Storytelling is a key way to build a brand, improve employee experience, and Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise, Co Laois has won the Storytelling Award for its innovative and engaging campaigns.

A hallmark of Midlands Park Hotel’s brand and employee experience storytelling is its authenticity. On the employee experience side, the hotel has developed an employee recognition series titled The Joy of Employee, which captures the story of their employees. Besides being a way of recognising employees, it shows internal stories to candidates, including success stories and career paths.

On the hotel’s social media channels, you can also find videos of a guard of honour in recognition of 20 years of service, pictures of the Christmas party held in their ballroom, and more authentic content that celebrates internal accomplishments. The website aligns with this strategy with a team spotlight category under the career tab, which includes examples of employees’ career development.

Located in the heart of the midlands, the hotel has also developed a strategic attraction campaign called #MeetInTheMiddle. Through the development of a brand story centred around its target area, the Midlands Park Hotel is increasing its visibility both in the midlands and in the hospitality and tourism industry. Additionally, the hotel uses its Great Place to Work recognition in an effective manner to leverage its storytelling and continue to attract new customers and employees.

“Using brand and employee experience storytelling to showcase a company’s culture, and attract customers and employees is an effective marketing tactic,” says Marina Rivas, marketing brand manager at Great Place to Work Ireland. “The Midlands Park Hotel is one of the leading examples in the hospitality industry when it comes to building a great workplace culture, and telling its story from the inside out. The hotel is opening its doors, celebrating internal successes, and showcasing what it’s like to work and be a customer there.

“Their unique touch is the clarity and authenticity they bring to the story they tell. The #MeetInTheMiddle and The Joy of Employee campaigns are powerful tools for the Midlands Park Hotel to keep setting the bar high and gaining visibility in the market. At Great Place to Work, we are looking forward to seeing what their next campaign and its impact on the industry will be.”

Culture Improvement Award: IRFU
Given that rugby is woven into the fabric of Irish culture, it may come as no surprise for the Irish Rugby Football Union to win the Culture Improvement Award.

In September 2022, the IRFU launched a new series of Family Friendly Policies, which aim to support all staff members to find the right balance between home and working life and to create a culture where people can ask for support if they need to.

Support for families, parent workers and their children is important to the IRFU, which is fully committed to providing initiatives to support employees in achieving a balance between work and personal life. Arrangements available to them include first day of school leave, carers support leave, support for employees experiencing difficult family circumstances, reproductive health-related leave, and surrogacy leave

In addition, the IRFU ran an awareness campaign on domestic violence and abuse through the Women’s Aid Employer Engagement Programme and continues to run online classes so staff can log in at a time that is convenient for them, such as First Aid in the Home, Women’s Health: Menopause, and Men’s Mental Health Hacks.

Other supports include Parenting Support, a free 30-minute consultation with a parenting expert in which you can learn how to better understand your child’s world, and support for non-nationals and their families, which comprises free 30-minute phone consultation with the support team who can talk the person through a range of topics.

“As an organisation with a commitment to high performance and continual improvement, the IRFU has time and time again shown a remarkable commitment to their employee voice, constantly learning from their employees and implementing relevant policies to act on feedback and support staff in any way they can,” says Joseph Benkanoun-Greene, client success list and awards project manager at Great Place to Work Ireland.

“Recently implemented family-friendly policies such as first day of school leave and surrogacy leave showcase this perfectly: these are the kinds of policies which define an organisation’s culture. Employees who feel heard and safe enough to reach out for support regardless of personal circumstances are happier at work: and the IRFU is making sure their employees feel just that.”

For All Award: Genesys
Inclusion is key to ensuring that a company is a great place to work, and Genesys is committed to providing an inclusive, safe and fun work environment for all employees across the globe, with a goal to become the most inclusive company in the world as they celebrate one another’s experiences and perspectives.

To achieve this, the Ireland DEI Council was established in January 2021. It has grown since to encompass specific Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), each focusing on a different underrepresented community, reflective of their diverse workforce. The council works with these ERGs to organise events, activities, fundraisers etc, and partners with the global DEI team to align on goals.

In 2022, Galway’s Genesys hosted several events, from small meet-ups at local venues, such as Drink n’ Draw, to hosting their own conferences such as Pride in Tech and Women in Tech, which provided colleagues with a platform to be their authentic selves and share their experiences with others, educating them about the challenges lived by members of these underrepresented groups. These open and transparent conversations led to employees gaining a deeper understanding of what actions they can take, and how they can contribute to making their workplace safer and more respectful.

In addition to these events, training was introduced on the internal e-learning platform. This focuses on how to recognise microaggressions in the workplace and give guidance on how they can be handled correctly. The company also brought in experts from ShoutOut, a non-profit “committed to improving the life of LGBTQ+ people” to deliver two educational workshops throughout 2022.

Genesys Ireland hosted its first Inclusion Summit in October. The aim of the summit was to increase awareness of local DEI activities and safe spaces that exist within Genesys communities, and to encourage open conversations.

“Being a Great Place to Work ‘For All’ is about creating a workplace where individuals can bring their authentic selves to work knowing they will be not just accepted, but supported, allowing them to perform at their best and deliver for the organisation,” says Brían Sutton, client relationship manager at Great Place to Work Ireland.

“Genesys has shown clear leadership by demonstrating a structured approach, providing all colleagues the opportunity to participate through multiple employee resource groups. These groups focus on different communities in the workforce and allow everyone to learn from one another in the safe environment provided.

“Genesys deserve to be recognised for delivering a culture that provides support and participation both globally and locally. They have shown a unique ability to listen, learn and be continuously empathetic towards ensuring a real sense of belonging to the Genesys team and culture.”

Ambassador: Aisling Murray and Emily McKenzie of Codex
This award recognises individuals who embed the Great Place to Work approach within their organisation to drive sustainable improvement to their culture. Increasingly important in the journey is both the ability to understand data and craft a story in a way that delivers for people, and the business. This works best when HR and marketing work in concert with each other.

Aisling Murray, HR director and Emily McKenzie, head of marketing do just that. They have both played central roles in codifying, articulating, and branding the culture and employee experience journey in Dublin-based Codex.

A clear example of this is Codex’s recent work on their values. In supporting Codex and its people through a growth trajectory and rebrand, Murray and McKenzie have been integral in building, defining and expanding Codex’s values as an organisation. Throughout the process, they engaged stakeholders from across the business and continue to strive to bring those values to life both internally and externally.

“I’ve had the pleasure, and the privilege, to work alongside the team in Codex over the last number of years,” says Fania Stoney, business development strategist at Great Place to Work Ireland. “Both Aisling and Emily have a steadfast determination to create a great culture within the organisation and showcase that as part of their brand. They are up for challenging discussions, always willing to take on feedback, and have an inherent ability to move to action and innovate.

“They manage all of this, often while juggling new family life and further study. I’m thrilled to see them both receiving this award in 2023. The work that they have done together demonstrates that an organisation of any scale can not only sustain but continue to build a great culture for their people.

“We at Great Place to Work thank both Aisling and Emily for their contribution and congratulate them on the role they have played within Codex to date and look to see what they do in the future.”

Future of Work Awards: B. Braun
For B. Braun, it is very important that every new employee feels welcomed and appreciated. During Covid the Dublin-based company had lots of new starters who onboarded completely remotely. So for 2022 in a “post-Covid” world with fewer social restrictions in place, it really wanted to change practices and make a difference for people joining B. Braun, especially after the past few years with all the social challenges the pandemic has brought to everyone.

The company then redesigned its onboarding post-Covid, especially the first two weeks, to create that personal connection and a culture of inclusion. Now, on their first day, a new starter will have a breakfast morning with all colleagues, receive a personal welcome card that everyone onsite will sign and leave a message, meet with managing directors, and have lunch with their manager.

The priority is for the new starters to feel part of the company as soon as possible, with all departmental induction done within the first four to eight weeks to ensure the new starters onboard quicker and easier. They ask all new starters after two months about their experience in the onboarding process. On this basis, they can evaluate and adjust their approach to continuously improve their practices. It also gives the opportunity to address any gaps they may have experienced and rectify this in real time.

Post-Covid, B. Braun has also implemented a “Reconnecting Day”, which gives employees a chance to have that personal connection they were missing. A wellbeing element to the day was important; team members shared personal stories of challenges they faced and how self-care helped. More importantly, it highlighted that self-care is a priority not a luxury.

“B. Braun is leading the way in shaping the future of work through their innovative approach to onboarding, which places a strong emphasis on building human connections and fostering a culture of inclusion,” says Fernanda Pinto Godoy, marketing coordinator at Great Place to Work Ireland. “This approach not only welcomes new employees in a meaningful way but also helps to create a positive work environment that fosters engagement and collaboration among all employees.

“I think the future of work should prioritise creating an inclusive environment where people feel valued, motivated, and engaged, in turn allowing them to thrive. I am inspired by B. Braun’s dedication and I look forward to seeing the transformative impact of their efforts.”