Special Reports
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Culture the key ingredient in making somewhere a great place to work

What separates 100 Ireland’s Best Workplaces from the rest? The data provides some valuable insights

The Ireland’s Best Workplaces list annually announces the organisations that have consistently gone above and beyond for their employees. Many of these organisations have been recognised year on year for this achievement but there are plenty of new faces – this year is particularly notable for Ireland’s Best Workplaces, as it is the first time that 100 organisations have been recognised.

From these 100 organisations, we are given a valuable insight into what a great workplace culture looks like and how it is achieved. We’ve delved into the data that makes these results possible and it’s clear to see why these Best Workplaces are leading the way.

Career development

Providing employees with sufficient training and career development is vital for any organisation. Without seeing a clear path of progression, your employees can start to feel dissatisfied in their position, feeling they are stuck in a rut with no room to improve or develop. Most employees need growth to feel stimulated and challenged. They want to feel there’s a pay rise on the horizon or an eventual switch-up from the same menial tasks every day.

Making that effort to make employees feel like they are a significant part of your organisation and unlocking new opportunities for them will make the world of difference in terms of creating an enjoyable workplace culture where they feel valued and respected.


Some 73 per cent of employees at Best Workplaces felt that they can fulfil their career aspirations working at their organisations. By contrast, among companies who didn’t reach Great Place to Work certification, just 44 per cent of employees agreed with that statement.

Career development is one of the key determiners of employee satisfaction and it is as simple as consistently maintaining an open conversation with employees around their needs. Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable to discuss these needs is key to curating a great workplace culture – among Ireland’s Best Workplaces, 85 per cent of employees felt management was “approachable” and “easy to talk with”, with this dropping to just 56 per cent among non-certified organisations.

A culture of trust across the board is vital – without it your organisation is at risk of fostering an environment of extremely low morale and creating dissatisfied and unmotivated employees.

The future of work is now

It’s an understatement to say that the way most workplaces operate has changed massively over the past three years. Companies have learned how to cater to their employees’ needs more and more, and the switch to a more hybrid working approach has shown that accessibility and flexibility are more achievable than ever. Your employees know this.

Being a good leader means listening to employees. Some 79 per cent of those employed by our Best Workplaces felt that “management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas”, compared with just 44 per cent among non-certified organisations. The current way of working means being flexible and open to change. It means a less transactional relationship between employer and employee: taking the ‘human’ approach and viewing employees as individuals, not just viewing them as another cog in the machine.

The Best Workplaces in Ireland know this; 77 per cent of employees at our Best Workplaces felt their management showed a sincere interest in them as a person, not just as an employee. In non-certified organisations, the figure was 46 per cent.

As with most things in a good company culture, maintaining an open and honest conversation about individual employee needs is an efficient way to stay up to date with how your flexible approach is working. Again, in doing this you are showing that you value how your employees feel and how they want to work.

Culture of recognition

A great workplace is one that listens to its employees but also gives thanks. Even a little encouragement goes a long way. Studies have shown that employee engagement and performance are generally higher in organisations where employees are given recognition at least a few times a month. Seventy-nine per cent of employees at our Best Workplaces agreed that “excellent performance is recognised in this organisation”, with this same percentage also agreeing that “management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort”. Just 43 per cent of employees at organisations that did not meet the certification criteria agreed with these statements.

Lack of employee recognition in the workplace is one of the key factors in employee turnover. Prioritising both a culture of trust and a culture of recognition should be at the top of any organisation’s agenda in order to foster a content workforce and take a workplace from good to great.

In terms of individual recognition, it is also important that as an organisation you are fostering a culture of recognition for all and not just a select few. Three quarters (76 per cent) of employees at our Best Workplaces agreed that “managers avoid playing favourites”, with this same percentage agreeing that “everyone has an opportunity to get special recognition”. In contrast, 45 per cent of employees at non-certified organisations felt their managers avoided playing favourites, while 42 per cent agreed about the chances of getting special recognition.

It’s all well and good to give recognition but when this recognition means prioritising employees you get on with the best or know the longest, you are isolating other hard workers and putting them at a disadvantage. The thin line between recognition and favouritism is clear to see from this data, and this line must be trodden carefully in order to make this culture of recognition as fair and unbiased as possible.

Employee advocacy

When people actually enjoy their work and the people they work with, they’re more than likely going to want to spread the word. Ensuring your employees genuinely enjoy their job and view their workplace in a positive light means they will be your biggest advocates for talent attraction. Having employees who are eager to spread the good word to friends and family about your organisation is a second-to-none referral.

An impressive 81 per cent of employees at Ireland’s Best Workplaces agreed that they would strongly endorse their organisation to friends and family as a great place to work. Your employees know your organisation inside out and if they are choosing to endorse you to the people they are closest to it’s clear there is a great workplace culture present.

And these employees aren’t deceiving their friends and family – 83 per cent of them agree with the all-important statement of “taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work”, contrasting with less than half (49 per cent) among non-certified organisations.

Ireland’s Best Workplaces are recognised for a reason – their employee advocacy, unrivalled workplace cultures and commitment to the upkeep of trust-built leadership makes these organisations the best in Ireland, something the data shows to be true.

Rachel McLoughlin is marketing coordinator with Great Place to Work