Employee Recognition: Insights from Ireland's Best Workplaces 2024

Rachel McLoughlin

To build a Great workplace, a culture of recognition isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must-have, mainly for fostering engagement, loyalty, and ultimately, organisational success. Showing appreciation and recognition is a simple but extremely effective way to show you value the work your employees do each day. We've detailed more on why this is so important below, as well as provided key insights into some of Ireland's Best Workplaces 2024 and how they recognise their employees.


Why is employee recognition so important?

Employee recognition is an integral part of a thriving workplace. It helps with motivation, inspires loyalty, and cultivates a culture of trust. At its core, recognition validates the efforts, skills, and dedication of individuals who contribute to the success of an organisation. Your employees want to feel like the work they are doing is noticed, and will feel more confident in this work if they are being recognised and commended for it. By acknowledging and appreciating employees' contributions, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to nurturing a supportive and empowering work environment.

It also goes beyond mere acknowledgment; it instills a sense of pride and purpose, driving individuals to continuously strive to do their best work and bring their best selves to work. By implementing effective employee recognition programs, organisations can reap these benefits and create a positive work environment conducive to growth and success. 



Key insights from Ireland's Best Workplaces 2024

In February we celebrated the release of our annual Ireland's Best Workplaces recognition, acknowledging the top 120 organisations who are dedicated to creating a Great workplace culture for all employees. The best workplaces are those that prioritise employees at every turn, cultivating that culture of trust. We were delighted to hear from some of these organisations, who have kindly shared the inspiring ways they consistently show their employees how they appreciate the work that they do.


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Creating pathways for career progression

Providing your employees with opportunities for learning and development demonstrates a profound level of commitment to their growth, showcasing that your organisation not only values their current contributions but also invests in their long-term success. By offering avenues for advancement, such as promotions, skills development programs, or mentorship opportunities, employers signal their belief in employees' potential and their dedication to nurturing talent from within. 

A clear example of this is from the team at Vagabond Tours, winners of the Great Place to Work Special Award for Learning & Development 2024. All staff receive a further training and development allowance each year, and in 2023, Vagabond created a new role in their company, that of chief trainer;


"The training for employees joining the Vagabond team is second to none. For example a new guide successfully joining the company for 2024 will receive a minimum of 5 weeks fully paid and expenses covered training. This will include in-house training, on the road training and team training. The ongoing further training is then continuously checked in on and encouraged throughout the year. Members of staff are always encouraged to give feedback to management through their liaison officer as to what further training they may require."


The Doyle Collection's ten-month "Proud to Lead" programme is another tangible example of an organisation putting its employees' growth first. This programme is open to anyone who holds a supervisor or team leader position, or someone that has been highlighted within the business that may step into one of those roles in the next 12-months, and is divided into four areas: Leading Self, Leading Business, Leading Teams, and Leading People. Across these four categories, the learner can develop in areas that they may not have experience in, but have an interest in.  Participants complete modules in key business areas such as Risk Management, Leading Quality, Finance, Revenue and Leading Results but also in areas that are considered as "soft skills" such as Coaching and Communication. Proud to Lead is an excellent opportunity for team members to develop new skills, which is vital for career progression.

"As a company we have seen many benefits from this programme, ranging from increased retention, creating a pipeline of future leaders and a high rate of internal promotions at supervisory level. We ensure that graduated team members are given the opportunity to use these newly learned skills in their roles, thus having more responsibility and gaining further experience. This actively encourages our team to set themselves goals and to reach their full potential.  From a business perspective, this programme creates a pipeline of leadership talent from which we promote internally."


best workplaces for women 2024


Organising events to celebrate employees

At PREM Group, this year a Best Workplace in Ireland and Best Workplace for Women, they organised what they named a "Global Colleague Month". Ran in August 2023, this was the collective idea of the HR team with contributions from PREM Group's individual properties, to help make the celebrations something that benefited the whole team. The celebration involved profiling team members from different nationalities and organising on-site events showcasing the traditions and cuisine of various nations. Everyone was invited to take part and share their background.  

"The event created a sense of unity and understanding among our diverse workforce and was great fun for all who got involved. Especially after such a tough couple of years for the hospitality industry, we wanted to continue the tradition of celebrating our team members at the busiest time of the year and to recognise we had team members from all over the world and to learn more about their traditions.

We have 41 different nationalities across the group, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to spotlight different team members throughout the month. It has given us such an insight into their traditions and cultures and we are all the richer for what our teams have shared. The event helped to reinforce our culture of doing the right thing, was a great success and we are proud to present it as the practice we were proudest of last year."


👉 Click here to check out PREM Group's blog for more info on their Global Colleague Month! 👈


At Kearys Motor Group, they have recently implemented a milestone programme, based on a suggestion from their Great Place to Work committee. This is a structured initiative designed to recognise and celebrate significant milestones reached by employee, with the aim being to acknowledge and appreciate employees' dedication and commitment. It serves as a means to recognise their efforts and contributions to Kearys while fostering a positive and motivating work environment. Everyone with the company over 10 years receives a commemorative recognition award, additional annual leave and a financial gift, commensurate with service.

To launch the programme in November 2023 Kearys retrospectively recognised 88 employees at the Maryborough House Hotel in Cork, with MCs Lucy Kennedy and Keith Duffy  joined by special guests, Brand Ambassadors Paul McGrath and Simon Zebo.


Implementing policies to support your employees

While recognition focuses on acknowledging and appreciating employees' contributions and achievements, policies provide the framework and structure for fair treatment, consistent expectations, and opportunities for growth. When these two elements align, they create a mutual effect that strengthens employee engagement, morale, and overall satisfaction. Implementing relevant policies is a tangible way for organisations to demonstrate their care and commitment to their employees. By establishing fair and transparent policies, such as those related to performance evaluations, promotion criteria, and grievance procedures, employers signal their dedication to creating a supportive and equitable work environment.

For example at SHR Group, their suite of family policies reflects their commitment to supporting  employees through various stages of their family life. They understand that a supportive work environment is crucial for the wellbeing and productivity of their team members, and are proud to offer a range of policies that cater to the diverse needs of their workforce. Just some of these policies include-

  1. Maternity, Paternity, Adoptive, and Surrogacy Leave: Designed to provide ample time and support for new parents, recognising the importance of bonding and care in the early stages of parenthood. These policies include updated pay entitlements to ensure financial support during these crucial times.

  2. Pregnancy Loss Support: In their commitment to supporting employees through challenging times, SHR Group provides dedicated support for pregnancy loss. This includes understanding and addressing the emotional and physical needs of employees experiencing such difficult times.

  3. Force Majeure and Compassionate Leave: Acknowledging that life can be unpredictable, SHR Group’s extended force majeure leave policy provides necessary time off during such unforeseen circumstances, while the extended compassionate leave policy offers time and space to grieve and manage personal situations like bereavement.


"These policies are not just benefits; they are a reflection of our core values and our belief in supporting our employees not just as professionals but as individuals with diverse personal needs and responsibilities. By investing in their wellbeing, we create a workplace culture that is nurturing, inclusive, and forward-thinking."


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Genuinely showing employees you care

Often, the most meaningful gestures of employee appreciation and recognition are the simplest ones. Something as straightforward as checking in with employees on a regular basis or creating an open and safe space for them to express themselves can have a profound impact on morale and engagement. When managers take the time to check in with their team members, they demonstrate genuine care and concern for their wellbeing, fostering a sense of belonging and support within the workplace.

At CluneTech, they have committed to taking a consistent and inclusive approach to the way in which they care for their employees;

"What really makes us proud is how much we value the little things that show we care. Even with 1,200 employees, our CEO and Founder Terry Clune strives to know everyone by name and know enough about them to ask how their family is or how their hurling team did in the recent championship. He finds the time to individually check in with people and regardless of their position in the company, he will always ask the question: 'Is there anything you think we could be doing better?'"


Check out our episode of The Red Cube with Rachael O'Shea at CluneTech for more on their Great culture 👇



These small yet significant actions not only strengthen the bond between employees and their managers but also contribute to a positive work culture built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. In essence, the power of employee appreciation lies in its simplicity — a sincere gesture or an open ear can make all the difference in creating a thriving work environment.

By maintaining a genuine interest in your employees as an individual and taking time for interactions on an individual level, you can further help build that layer of trust that is so integral to organisational success. You are showing them they are not just a number to you, and that your organisation truly values them as a person, not just as an employee.



Want to join these companies as a Best Workplace in 2025?

To be considered, organisations must first be Certified by Great Place to Work. Check out our webinar below for more 👇

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About Great Place to Work®

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