The CIPD HR Leadership & Innovation Awards 2012


The Awards

The purpose of this high prestigious awards programme is to celebrate outstanding examples of HR Leadership & Innovation and encourage what HR is continuously adapting to - finding new and innovative ways to respond to commercial pressures. 

The awards show how HR has gained credibility as a business partner with a deep understanding of the business context and with a proven commercial and political capability to deliver on corporate objectives. This is evident from the 76 submissions received, from which three themes emerged: 

  • Business Performance with HR taking leadership in the strategy process

  • Employee Engagement in all its forms of involvement, consultation and communications

  • Leadership and People Development

Congratulations to all our finalists.

Opening Address

The Awards Opening Address was given by Michael McDonnell, Managing Director, CIPD Ireland. This was followed by a speech by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. The Minister also presented the Awards of Special Recognition to the Dublin Simon Community and the Irish Naval Service.

Photographs from the event are available on flickr.

The Finalists

Awards of Distinction

Allianz plc

Delivering Sustainable Change – Performance Management and Reward

A committed and engaged workforce is essential to sustaining superior business performance. Strategically, Allianz view effective reward as one of the many ingredients that make up engagement. Evidence from two consecutive employee surveys show that engagement levels within Allianz are exceptionally high. However, feedback pointed to an immediate need to renew the existing Performance Management and Reward process.

In early 2011 and following three years of wage restraint, comprehensive and direct dialogue commenced with staff and their union representatives. The agreed outcome is a robust Performance Management process that maximises performance differentiation, optimises the available spend on pay through fixed and variable reward, and benchmarks pay bands on an annual basis. The new process ensures a sustainable and cost efficient solution for the current economic climate and the inevitable upturn


Business Performance Management

Facing an enormous downturn in the economy, the HR team partnered with the business to enable them to have a clear understanding of their business models and of the financial, people, customer and client challenges. A HR Business Performance team worked with the management in the most challenged areas to develop an action plan for sustainability. The HR team were instrumental in driving change into the business to deliver a commercially flexible workforce. Leadership development and coaching became an integral part of this initiative. As a result, additional levels of support were provided to clients to support ARAMARK with business retention.


Cloud Computing & Sales Talent Academy

EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Through innovative products and services, EMC accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect, and analyze their most valuable asset-information-in a more agile, trusted, and cost-efficient way. As part of its talent management strategy EMC, partnered with Cork Institute of Technology to develop Ireland’s first undergraduate Degree and Masters Program in Cloud Computing. EMC also designed and developed a Sales Talent Academy to develop graduates through a five month training program to move into sales roles, based both in country and in Ireland COE. These joint initiatives ensure a talent pool is ready to meet the business demands of EMC and provides lifetime learning for employees who are looking to progress their careers within EMC.

Four Seasons Hotel

Labour Management

This is an initiative that fundamentally changed the way Four Seasons HR manages it labour resources. It involved the creation of a labour tracking ‘job bank’ that allows departmental managers to post and match their weekly resource needs with employees available from other departments. The idea originated amongst employees with previously defined roles who agreed to multi-skill training with more general titles and to become a more flexible workforce; moving between departments as opposed to having no work available. This simple philosophy of having ‘labour in the right place at the right time’ has resulted in labour efficiencies across the hotel and this innovative Irish model has been adopted by the European Group.

Hewlett Packard

Employee Engagement – Shifting Ownership to Employees

HP embarked on an ambitious Employee Engagement initiative to build an environment where the employees re-engaged with the business challenges, are motivated to succeed and are proud to work for HP. At the heart of this HR driven initiative is the ‘5 My’s of Engagement’; My Job, My Career, My Recognition, My Opinion and My Community, each contributing to greater organisation flexibility in adapting to present economic conditions. In essence the model is an enabler for employee motivation, business change management and uniquely, repositioning of the engagement dynamic. HP recognises Ireland as a core site for HP worldwide and this initiative has delivered tangible business improvements for Ireland’s competitiveness, on a global stage.

Intel Ireland

Supporting future growth of Intel Ireland through International Employee Recognition Assignments

Intel’s HR Mobility Organisation undertook the (two-way) movement of 700 employees and their families from Ireland to facilitate assignments in the US, China and Israel. At the same time, supporting inbound assignments for 90 employees from China and U.S. sites, together with 112 new hires at the Co Kildare (Leixlip) plant. A mammoth HR logistical undertaking, the initiative also included designing a visa program approved by the US state department which would facilitate permits for training, work, & new hires to Intel. These assignments provided expert temporary support to the global factory network while also enabling our employees increase their knowledge and exposure to the latest technologies in the industry.

MCS Kenny

Group Employee Performance Management & Development Programme

MCS Kenny’s international success is founded on ensuring the correct engineering profile to best manage their ever changing business operations. Recognising Ireland’s limitations in training for the oil and gas industry, MCSK made a strategic decision to invest in establishing a comprehensive Performance and Development Framework that focused on an accelerated people development strategy with clear progression guidelines matched to appropriate levels of competence and responsibility. MCSK ensures that the framework supports the growth of potential high revenue business lines.

Version 1

Employee Engagement – The Journey to Superior Business Performance

The thesis of this HR initiative is that Version 1 is a People Business (100% of revenue and 83% of cost comes from its people). It is not surprising therefore that Staff Engagement is foremost in the corporate strategy on a par with Profitability and Customers. The engagement strategy built on a strong consultative process encompasses a range of 50 large and small initiatives introduced over a 3 year period and measured at the end of each quarter; providing a real time picture of their impact. The programme was built on a quarterly rhythm which created a culture of execution and discipline. The result was a 25% uplift in individual performance across the company, which consequently translated into excellent results in Customer Satisfaction and Profitability targets.

Awards of Outstanding Best Practice

Alkermes Pharma Ireland Ltd

Maximising a new employee engagement model to successfully transition the business during a merger

HR led initiatives, in partnership with the Site Leadership Team that developed/strengthened forums for employee involvement, which resulted in the creation of an enhanced employee engagement culture. Close links were established between the HR functions from the merging organisations and inclusive interactions with the Employee Consultative Body, Eliance, were fostered. These new forums facilitated employee engagement, improved communications and improved trust at a time of significant change. This resulted in a successful consultation and transition process including managing difficult issues such as pension changes. The Eliance team has remained in place and remains a key consultative forum with the Site Manager and Head of HR. This engagement model facilitated a very successful company merger, valued in the region of $1billion and the creation of a new company, Alkermes plc, headquartered in Ireland.

Boston Scientific

HR POWERful Initiative

At the heart of this initiative is the HR team's expert use of the company’s Continuous Improvement Methodology (DMAIC) to drive key business initiatives delivering cost, service and quality improvements. By using business language and problem solving methodologies the team is embedding a strong continuous improvement culture. This partnership approach has created a strong alignment between HR and their business customers. The HR team is delivering results which are recognised by their internal customers and the company.


Leaders as coaches – Leadership 4 U

Diageo Ireland has a strong belief that the strength of our leadership is a key competitive advantage. This innovation involved HR partnering with the senior leadership team to help them share the latest leadership tools and thinking from their own executive development programme. There were 3 keys to this; leaders bringing the tools to life by sharing their own journey; developing Breakthrough Performance Coaching skills to address real business challenges; achieving deeper self insight through coaching to explore purpose and possibility. This has resulted in a stronger management community, with a clear connectivity and commitment to the business agenda that continues to deliver strong business results.

The Dualway Group

Organisation Design – Organisation Re-structure

Established in 1979, The Dualway Group has grown from a one-man operation to employing between 70 and 100 employees depending on seasonal needs. In 2008, a newly appointed HR Manager along with the senior management team embarked on a review of the company resulting in a transformation of its organisational design and delivery capability. Changes embraced accountability through enhanced talent and performance management and where employees are empowered to drive the business forward. The Dualway Group has met its profit targets year on year despite the recession and the declining overseas numbers. An impressive performance recognised through Awards – Coach Operator of the Year 2011 and City Sightseeing Worldwide Tour Operator 2011 in competition with more than 90 other operators throughout Europe.

Dublin Airport Authority

Transforming Dublin Airport Authority: inside and out

DAA’s vision is to deliver ‘a Twenty First Century travel experience to the best international standard’. To make this vision a reality required transformation both in terms of physical infrastructure (Terminal 2) and in terms of the DAA business model.

  • The Cost Recovery Programme introduced in 2009 not only achieved savings of €40m in payroll costs, it also allowed for the introduction of competitive terms and conditions for new staff. Terminal 2 opened in November 2010 with 500 new staff on board, all on new competitive terms and conditions.
  • The introduction of a focused absenteeism programme has achieved savings of €2.7m over a two year programme. This programme is ongoing with further savings expected.
  • DAA recognised that cost alone would not transform its business, and has invested in a comprehensive development programme building leadership capability to shape the future of DAA.

Fáilte Ireland

Major restructuring of the service delivery model to proactively respond to the challenges facing the tourism industry at a time of economic crisis

Fáilte Ireland continues to take a more ‘hands on’ approach by delivering a range of tailored practical supports to more than 1,500 tourism businesses and to help them to grow and prosper. To do this, a new framework centred on local “Key Account Managers” was introduced. These Account Managers would support local businesses and assist them to contribute economically as well as generate employment within the local region. With a greater emphasis on high performance targets and a greater focus on what success means to its clients, the challenge for Fáilte Ireland’s HR Department was to ensure these managers were appropriately skilled and mentored to meet the objectives of the new way of working.


The KPMG Business School – supporting the firm’s drive towards a High Performance Culture

The KPMG Business School is best described as a key enabler of the firm’s High Performance Culture strategy and supports KPMG’s ambition to be the best. The school’s emphasis is on ensuring that people can access, through a blend of enhanced classroom and on-line mechanisms, the skill and knowledge development to meet the new performance requirements required by the firm. This initiative has enabled staff to raise the bar by improving individual and collective performance and in the process has impacted positively on employee engagement.

SAP Business Objects Ireland

SAP People Agenda

In order to deliver on their company vision to make the world run better, SAP who is the market leader in enterprise application software, recognises that they need the best people with the right skills who are motivated to deliver sustainable and profitably growth. As a result they introduced a People Agenda, which is jointly owned by the Executive Board and focuses on five Game Changing moves in the areas of: Leadership, Performance & Reward Management, People Development, Talent and Organisation Design. The success of their People Agenda has then been measured and validated through their recent Employee Survey with their biggest success being a significant increase in Employee Engagement.

Awards of Special Recognition

Dublin Simon Community

The not for profit sector plays a significant role in our social and economic life. As well as delivering essential services it generates considerable employment and revenue for the state. Dublin Simon Community epitomises all that is good in this voluntary sector.  It is run by a team of enormously dedicated, compassionate and enthusiastic employees and volunteers.

From small beginnings over 40 years ago, when a group of Trinity and UCD students provided soup and sandwiches to people who were sleeping rough, the organisation has grown to supply an extensive and sophisticated range of services throughout the stages of homelessness. These include emergency support for rough sleepers, medically assisted treatments, the development of individual care plans and every kind of support service reflecting the contemporary needs of people who are homeless. And, Dublin Simon still provides the soup and sandwiches run 365 days of the year.

Every day brings new challenges for the people in Dublin Simon and the management team knows the value of keeping staff and volunteers motivated in such a demanding and sensitive environment. Under the direction of HR, they set up a Well Being Week of talks, therapies and fun activities for their team aimed at ensuring that Dublin Simon continues to support those who need their services for the next 50 years. The Well Being Week is expected to be a regular feature in their future HR strategies.

Put simply, this is an outstanding organisation with the simple vision of providing a place that individuals’ can call home. It is our privilege to present the first of our two CIPD Awards of Special Recognition to Dublin Simon Community.

Irish Naval Service

The Irish Naval Service vision for 2016 is to be ‘The Smartest, Most Innovative and Responsive Naval Service in the World’ and they are achieving this by building the service as a learning organisation.

In aspiring to be the best, The Naval Service believes that the opportunity for members to gain what here-to-fore would be seen as civilian qualifications, is no longer desirable but essential.

In a recent HR initiative, The Naval Service developed bespoke Certificate and Degree Courses in Leadership, Management and Naval Studies, approved by Cork Institute of Technology. These courses allow NCOs to achieve a qualification for their core and often undervalued skills, knowledge and competencies. The take-up for the courses has been so successful that the template of attaining accreditations for Defence Forces’ courses within the national qualification framework, has been adopted by the Army and Air Corps.

Here tonight, we are acknowledging the vision of the Irish Naval Service in promoting a lifetime learning culture within the Defence Forces with the CIPD Award of Special Recognition for the leadership, vision and professional capability of their personnel.

Awards of Special Commendation

Galway Hospice

Implementing World Class Standards in Service Delivery - a first for a palliative care centre in Ireland

Galway Hospice is the first hospice in Europe (2010) to receive the CHKS International Quality Improvement Award for its embedded approach to quality patient-centred care, continuous staff development, and significant enhancements in staff welfare and morale. It is also the first Hospice in Ireland to achieve CHKS Accreditation and ISO 9001:2008 Quality Certification. These Awards are the culmination of an integrated staff development strategy - educating and supporting staff, nurturing and rewarding talent, encouraging and acknowledging new initiatives, communicating openly and honestly, working seamlessly as a team to achieve the corporate goal of delivering top quality patient care, validated by external review.

Kavanagh Group

Different & Better - Staff Engagement

This is an example of a family-owned grocery retailer operating under the SuperValu franchise with 11 stores throughout the North West who set out to drive sales growth, reduce costs and to prove to their customers that they are ‘Different & Better’. They achieved this not only with formal development programmes and an emphasis on communications and participation in overall business goals, but also with ‘thinking outside the box’ Employee Engagement activities that engaged their over 500 employees, customers and communities with the hallmarks of enthusiasm and fun. The outcomes included impressive sales growth well ahead of National trends, substantial fundraising for Charities, National Retailer Awards and a truly committed and engaged workforce.