The awards are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate excellence in HR in Ireland today. They highlight the strategic role that HR is playing in organisations across a number of key areas such as diversity & inclusion, HR leadership, well-being, talent management, organisation development, and technology.

Full details on the awards and application process will be available on our website from mid-September, so start thinking about your application now!

2017 Awards

We were delighted to announce the winners of our HR Awards on Friday 17 February at a ceremony in the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin, at which media personality Kathryn Thomas was master of ceremonies. More than 90 companies representing large multinationals, the public and private sectors, and not-for-profit organisations from all across Ireland were represented at the inspiring ceremony.

During the judging process, teams from over 40 organisations presented to a panel of judges. The finalists were from organisations that demonstrated innovation, energy and collaboration to make a positive and sustainable impact on employee lives and on their organisation’s performance.

Each finalist had to account for their approach and business impact. To ensure the robustness of our judges, we were under the independent guidance of Bill Roche, Full Professor of Industrial Relations & Human Resources at the UCD School of Business.

The winners were:

Diversity and Inclusion


This award recognises organisations that are moving the diversity and inclusion agenda forward, challenging inequalities, including under-representation of certain groupings, removing barriers and overcoming resistance, and showing how this has benefitted employees and the business.

Winner: ESB International: Inspiring and Empowering Female Talent

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Accenture Ireland
  • Health Service Executive
  • Intel Ireland
  • Marriott International-Cork GSCC
  • Vodafone Ireland

Embedding a culture of workplace well-being


With this award, the CIPD recognises organisations that place employee well-being centre stage within the organisation and could show evidence of embedding a strong culture of workplace well-being. Entrants demonstrated how they are building a well-being culture, getting leaders and people managers on board to support employees' physical, emotional and mental well- being at work.

Winner: Musgrave Operating Partners Ireland: Be Well Work Well Programme

Kindly sponsored by Healthy Ireland

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Bank of Ireland
  • Fenero
  • Focus Ireland
  • Microsoft Ireland
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
  • Vodafone Ireland

Employee Empowerment and Trust

Version 1

A culture of trust is imperative in any organisation, and effects how individuals and organisations perform. Trust has to exist between colleagues, with leadership and in the organisation. This award recognises organisations that are embedding a culture of trust and empowerment, listen to the employee voice, enhance employee engagement and reinforce the contribution of employees.

Winner: Version 1: Engagement is Going Local

Kindly sponsored by NSAI

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Department of Finance
  • Health Service Executive
  • Kuehne + Nagel
  • Lidl Ireland
  • ODEON & UCI Cinemas

Excellence in HR Leadership

Bank of Ireland

This award recognises HR leadership that has demonstrated excellence and a strategic approach to HR/L&D across the organisation with a quantifiable contribution to organisational achievements. Entrants highlighted what were for them, innovative and unique approaches to addressing business issues and providing a sustainable solution that is contributing to the success of the organisation.

Winner: Bank of Ireland Group: Career and Reward Framework

Kindly sponsored by DeCareDental

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Central Statistics Office
  • Irish Water
  • Kerry Group
  • Organic Lens Manufacturing (Essilor)
  • Version 1

Organisation Development and Learning


Finalists demonstrated a strong link between organisation development activity and achieving business goals. This included examples of organisational culture that promoted learning and development, coaching, managing performance, innovative approaches to change and work design, as well as encouraging feedback. The judges wanted to see a clear description of the business objectives that prompted the development need, drove the approach, and determined how effectiveness was measured.

Winner: WALK: Creating a Values Based Culture

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Bank of Ireland - Learning Zone
  • ESB
  • ICON plc
  • MSD Brinny
  • Topaz Energy
  • UDG Healthcare plc
  • Ulster Bank

Talent Management


Most companies have experienced skills shortages in the past 12 months. This award recognises creative and effective approaches to attracting and retaining talent and how people are being managed. Entrants were likely to be working towards an organisation-wide talent pipeline that takes into account current and future needs and were able to show evidence of how the talent management activity benefits the business, supports organisational agility, and the impact it will have on meeting future business objectives.

Winner: Kerry Group: Driving Global Growth through Talent

Kindly sponsored by One4All Rewards

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Allied Irish Bank
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Boston Scientific
  • ESB International
  • Intel Ireland

Use of Technology in HR and People Management


As technology has become more central to the workplace, we know many HR teams are taking action to modernise their technology and build their analytics capability. CIPD wanted to see how technology in the widest sense is enhancing the employment experience and delivering better people management and HR services/ practice. Technology will have delivered specific benefits for the organisation while at the same time allowing greater participation, ownership and involvement by employees.

Winner: Dell: HR Direct Chat - Real Answers in Real Time

Other finalists in this category were:

  • Health Service Executive (NDTP)
  • Jurys Inns
  • Kerry Group
  • St Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park
  • Woodies

Special Recognition Award


The judging panel decided on a special award to recognise where strong foundations and solid progress was being made in a challenging environment, with pointers towards excellence emerged as part of significant reform that should have a durable impact into the future.

Reflecting the organisation’s positive engagement with the CIPD Awards process and the specific work around diversity, equality and inclusion, and the National Employment Record Portal, the 2017 CIPD Special Recognition Award was presented to the HR and NDTP teams in the Health Service Executive.

Judges tips

The feedback from judges was hugely positive across all categories and while it’s not possible to give individual feedback to all entrants, as promised we have compiled some of the key tips that may help to strengthen future submissions.

Feedback for entrants

With the CIPD HR Awards, we set out to deliver a robust and rigorous process that was relevant in today’s volatile world and connected to the CIPD mission to Champion Better Work and Working Lives. This is what drove our award categories, our engagement with Professor Bill Roche as Chair of our judging panel and our judging process. We wanted to see examples of business rationale, innovative thinking, appropriate approaches and assessment of impact. And all were in great supply in our entries.

For our judges, we sought out HR and business leaders who could help us with the process, and gave them a difficult, but exciting job to do. The entries were strictly evaluated against the application criteria, so thank you to our judges for that.

Then in the presentations, the finalists were put all through their paces by the judges. Reflecting the high calibre of entries, we had a day of tough decisions in January.

The feedback from judges was hugely positive across all categories and while it’s not possible to give individual feedback to all entries, as promised we have compiled some of the key tips that may help to strengthen future submissions.

Feedback from judges

  • Keep the responses simple, jargon light and use as few internal acronyms as possible!
  • Strong submissions had a clear format and structure to their answers on the entry form.
  • Sounds obvious but make sure to answer the question that’s asked and not the one that you wish had been asked!
  • Successful entries reflected the criteria of the award category. We would encourage entrants to fully understand the award criteria for the category that they are entering and make sure that this criteria comes across in the entry form and presentations.
  • Also make sure you are entering the right category for your particular initiative.
  • Entries that contained innovative HR practices, were firmly embedded in the needs of the organisation and had relevant quantifiable business and employee outcomes impressed the judges. Many organisations focused solely on metrics that were not directly linked to the business.
  • The judges were impressed with entries that clearly indicated where their journey started and where they got to as a result of taking a decisive and distinctive approach. For some entries it was too soon in the journey for any insights to be available.
  • Successful entries demonstrated how the sustainable approach taken will support the organisation in the future and how the approach evolved the culture of the organisation to ensure engagement and people development.

The CIPD Ireland team appreciates the time and effort that was spent on compiling your entries. We hope that the above feedback will help as we encourage you to enter the Awards when they open again in September 2017.


  • Bill Roche Full Professor of Industrial Relations & Human Resources, UCD Smurfit
  • Alison Hodgson Country HR Director, McDonalds
  • Michael Owens HR Director, VHI
  • Sean Fitzpatrick Director of Human Resources, Sisk & Sons
  • Niamh McNamara Head of HR, Novartis
  • Orla Graham Chief HR Officer, Deloitte
  • Sinead Heneghan CEO, Irish Institute of Training & Development
  • Fiona Tierney CEO, Public Appointments Commission
  • Joyce Rigby Jones Joint Managing Director, Voltedge
  • Sarah Abbott Senior Director Executive Talent Development, EMC
  • Orlagh Hunt Non Executive Director, FBD Insurance
  • Clodagh Logue Senior HR Director, Fitbit
  • Gina Quin President, National College of Ireland
  • Kara McGann Senior Labour Market Policy Executive, IBEC
  • Chris O'Donovan Group HR Director, Shannon Group Plc
  • Rod Toner Manager - Human Capital, Optum
  • Colette Walsh Director Human Resources, Tusla
  • Alison Sheridan Lecturer - Faculty of Business and Hospitality, Athlone Institute of Technology
  • Kevin Empey Director, Towers Willis
  • Michelle Browne Excellence Through People, NSAI
  • Anne Marie McGrath Lecturer HRM and Employment Law, Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Donal Crowley HR Director, Veolia
  • Lorraine McCullen HR Partner, Bord Gais Energy