It’s hardly surprising that big tech and e-commerce, sectors that have a reputation for valuing their employees, feature prominently in Ireland’s 150 Best Employers 2021. Google (1st), LinkedIn (10th) and eBay (16th) all make the top 25. But it’s not just ‘new’ industries that lead up the list – so too do a wide range of sectors including transport, healthcare, electronics, aviation, construction, aviation and retail.
Set in the booming Silicon Docks (Dublin’s equivalent of Silicon Valley), Google’s Irish campus is home to a diverse community of so-called ‘Googlers’ counting 60 different nationalities. Collaboration and innovation are the name of the game at Google’s Dublin office, says the internet behemoth, describing Dublin as its “growth engine for businesses across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa”. Google Ireland’s estimated 7,000 strong workforce are no strangers to perks, which reportedly include free food and beer. During the pandemic, the employer initially allowed its staff to work remotely from anywhere in the world, with some estimates suggesting 30pc of staff took up the option. However, Google advised staff to return to their country of employment late last year.
2020 was a tough time for Bus Átha Cliath- Dublin Bus, with its services taking a hit due to the pandemic. Customer journeys was 142 million people before Covid, but this has since halved to 69.4 million. Regardless, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Córas Iompar Eireann Group, Dublin Bus got through the year and kept a sustainable service running for the capital city. Founded in 1987, Dublin Bus employs 3,424 people from 70 different countries, according to its website. Its 2,514 drivers operate a fleet of 1,010 buses. In March, Dublin Bus officially launched the historic Broadstone Depot, Phibsboro, following a significant investment of €15.2M. The new bus fleet maintenance facility has the capacity for up to 120 buses and 300 employees.
Before Covid hit, Irish Rail broke a record. The wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Córas Iompar Eireann Group recorded 50.1 million passenger journeys across its services in 2019, generating some €233.8m in fares. Irish Rail didn’t have that same success with the pandemic. It recorded 17.9 million journeys last year, well short of its previous record-breaking effort in 2019. Despite the hit, money is pouring in for Irish Rail, bolstering its projects and keeping staff confident about the future. Irish Rail has the €2.6bn Dart+ Programme to look forward to, which will double one-way, peak time capacity to 52,000 passengers an hour by 2028.
TK Maxx is part of TJX Europe, Europe’s leading off-price clothing and homeware retailer with over 500 stores across the UK, Ireland, Poland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Operating in Ireland since 1997, there are 26 TK Maxx stores across Ireland and 2 Homesense stores, one in Blanchardstown, Dublin, and the other in Cork city.
TK Maxx is owned by TJX Companies, which had sales of £3.16bn for the 52 weeks to February 2, 2019.
The company sells an assortment of designer clothes and other items at up to 60pc less than the recommended retail price.
Irish Wheelchair Association is Ireland’s largest organisation for people with physical disabilities. It provides a nationwide assisted living service, community centres in every county, a fleet of accessible buses, a national parking permit and driving school service, wheelchair accessible social houses and helps young people with disabilities to build employability skills and confidence. The charity has over 2,200 employees, with some 1.3 million hours of assisted living services provided to 2,246 adults and children. Most of the IWA’s staff work directly in frontline services, as personal assistants in the assisted living service or directly supporting the resource and outreach centres, respite, sports and other activities.
Since 1989, Intel has invested $15bn in Ireland, creating one of the most advanced industrial campuses in Europe. Today, alongside advanced manufacturing, Intel in Ireland has come to represent a diversity of activities — from cutting edge research to design. Intel has 4,900 employees across the country, with facilities in Leixlip, Co Kildare, and Shannon, Co Clare. The US chip manufacturer is not done there. It is to create 1,600 permanent hi-tech jobs at its Leixlip campus, once it has comp leted the construction of a new chip manufacturing factory there.
Collen Construction is a family owned business established in 1810. The company has developed a reputation for quality, leading to its expanded operations within mainland Europe, where it has gained a reputation for excellence in the high-growth area of data centre development. In the year to March 2020, the company had revenue of €368.2mm, with €117.9m of that work coming from Europe. It reported pre-tax profits of €6.9m, with the average number of staff that year of 322. Staff costs for the period, which included directors’ salaries, were €23.4m, up from €17.5m.
The pandemic year has never been busier for An Post. The postal service has faced up to a swarm of packages as online shopping swelled in popularity. An Post, which first appeared in 1984, employs more than 9,000 people across its business in divisions ranging from postal to retail and financial services. Last year, An Post said it expected parcel volumes to reach 3.3 million each week between November and mid-December in what it described as Ireland’s “busiest ever online shopping fortnight”. At the time, An Post said it had 1,000 extra staff to help it over that busy Christmas period.
Since coming to Dublin in 2010, LinkedIn’s Irish operations have substantially grown. It now employs over 1,700 at Wilton Place and has secured an additional 580,000 sq ft of office space to facilitate future potential growth. LinkedIn currently has nearly 250 open roles in Dublin. It prides itself on its employee benefits, resources and wellbeing initiatives for its team, for example an “InDay” each month, to allow staff invest in themselves or volunteer for a cause or charity they are passionate about. It promotes internal networking and self care and has employee-led resource groups for new parents, as well as a fertility assistance programme.
Established in Ireland since 2009, IKEA employs over 700 staff here. Despite stores being closed for up to three months, IKEA offered financial stability to its workers by committing to paying 100pc of pay. It also launched a ‘Covid-19 Emergency Fund’ available to staff experiencing additional hardship as a result of the pandemic through non-repayable grants. The retailer also invested in formalised programmes to support its co-workers’ mental health and appointed the RetailTrust, a not-for-profit organisation, as their official provider of wellbeing services. Irish staff have been encouraged to take an extra day off this year, called a “me-day”, as a way for the business to support their overall health and wellbeing.
Mastercard Ireland opened its operations in 2008 with 36 staff and since then has grown to over 650 people. It has plans to hire 1,500 more staff in the next three to five years as it significantly grows its new European Technology Hub in Dublin. The office is technology focused with a growing number of staff in highly technical areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, blockchain, user experience and more. The Dublin office works on cutting edge tech projects that are at the core of Mastercard’s operation and the airy and collaborative campus-style workplace it is developing in Leopardstown reflects that importance.
Paypal currently employs around 2,800 workers at its Irish sites, having steadily grown its footprint here since opening its first European operations centre in 2003 in Dublin with 25 employees. The company opened an operations centre in Dundalk in 2012 with plans to create 1,000 jobs at the site but two years later it added a further 400 jobs. The growing operation has become perhaps the single key employment driver to a part of the northeast that had previously faced neglect on that front. Recent months have seen some cutbacks with employees notified last month that consultations were underway about some jobs moving overseas.
There are few institutions in Ireland as beloved by the wider community as Temple Street Children’s Hospital, where almost 150,000 sick children are cared for each year. And it seems that the hardworking workforce also have strong positive feelings regarding their workplace, according to this survey. The health service may have plenty of well publicised problems but the pandemic has proven, if proof were needed, that the frontline workers who keep it going always rise to the occasion.
In 2019, ahead of the still long awaited opening of the new Children’s Hospital, Temple Street was merged into a new legal structure with Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and National Children’s Hospital Tallaght to form Children’s Health Ireland (CHI).
Founded in the 1950s, Enable Ireland now provides services to more than 9,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families from over 40 state of the art locations in 15 counties. Covering childhood to adulthood, the charity has a staff of more than 1,200 divided into expert teams that work with the individual and their family on a plan for each life stage. Its philosophy is to ensure that its services are people centred. The charity runs a network of more than 20 charity shops to help fund its activities and also has a number of corporate partners, including Microsoft and TK Maxx.
Apple is one of the original big US tech firms to make Ireland its European home from home, arriving in Cork two days before Christmas in 1980, with Steve Jobs himself cutting the ribbon. The company has changed much since then, becoming the biggest company in the world and a symbol of sophistication and quality but Cork has remained very much at the core of its global operation. Employees in Cork - not to mention the city and its surroundings - have benefited greatly and the Munster economy receives a huge boost from the relatively high wages of the more than 6,000 staff now working at the iPhone-maker’s European headquarters. The operation is diverse with more than 90 nationalities amongst the workforce.
EBay first set up in Ireland in 2004 with a facility in Dublin, followed ten years later by the establishment in Dundalk of a major office for its online payments subsidiary Paypal. The retailer later split with Paypal leading to the EBay side of the operation pulling out of Dundalk, causing much anguish in the northeast. But EBay’s Dublin-based European headquarters continues to grow and hire and has more than 800 staff. It boasts of “a fantastic facility with a subsidised restaurant (yummy food), gym facilities (to keep you healthy), a wellness room and games area (to help you unwind), as well as lots of on-site services such as fitness classes, physiotherapy, dental check-ups and on-site banking.”
ASL AIrlines has fared better than most in the troubled aviation sector, helped by its focus on freight. It reportedly has not laid off any of its 2,500 workers and actually bought 20 new Boeing 737 freight aircraft. ASL traces its history back to the early 1970s when it began flying fresh produce from the Channel Islands to the UK before getting into the express cargo business, flying for the likes of DHL and FedEx. In the 1990s it relocated to Ireland, changing its name to Air Contractors, later flying “wet lease” passenger flights for the likes of Aer Lingus and others.
Ireland was the first global location for financial services firm Fidelity Investments. The Boston company is celebrating its 25th anniversary here this year but it is only in the past decade that it has seen significant growth here. In 2013, the company employed 400 people – it now employs more than
1,200. In February, the company said is to will add another 90 new jobs to its workforce. With offices in Dublin and Galway it employs people from 38 countries.
From first establishing a small manufacturing facility in Ireland in 1985, Microsoft Ireland now employs over 2,700 people representing over 75 different nationalities operating out of the company’s campus in Leopardstown and its Data Centre in Dublin. In 2018, Microsoft unveiled its €134m 34,000sqm campus at One Microsoft Place and more recently, in autumn of last year, revealed its redesigned €27m Engineering Hub at One Microsoft Court and announced the creation of 200 new engineering roles.
Aldi employs over 4,500 people and operates a network of 145 stores across the country, with stores in each county in the Republic of Ireland. According to the company, Aldi is Ireland’s highest paying supermarket and the first supermarket to pay staff the Living Wage Technical Group’s €12.30 rate, which came into effect on the 1st February 2020. Aldi works with over 330 Irish suppliers across Ireland.
The Irish Cancer Society was founded by Dr Austin Darragh in 1963 and since then has grown into the national cancer charity in Ireland, providing cancer services and information about early detection, treatment and support. The Irish Cancer Society has approximately 375 employees, including around 200 Night Nurses. It is a community of patients, survivors, volunteers, supporters, health and social care professionals and researchers, determined to help anyone affected by cancer in Ireland.
Argos, which was acquired by Sainsburys in 2016, has about 60 stores around Ireland. In January 1996, the first Argos stores in the Republic opened in Limerick and Nutgrove in Dublin. In 2005, Argos launched its Irish website, www.argos.ie, which now has over 25,000 products online. It has around 1,000 employees here. Across the group it has 29 million store customers and nearly a billion online visitors every year.
Life Style Sports was established in 1979 by Quinnsworth but since November 2005, it has been owned by Irish family-owned company Stafford Holdings. It has more than 60 stores in Ireland and has partnerships with major sports brands such as Nike and Addidas. During the recession it decided to row back on international expansion and focus on Ireland. In 2015 the company opened a €1.5m high-tech flagship store on Grafton Street in Dublin.
Kellogg began trading in Ireland in 1980 and currently employs 290 in the European headquarters located in a state-of-the-art office at the newly built Dublin Airport Central. The European headquarters was established in 2005 and was located in Airside Business Park, Swords until 2020. It’s responsible for supporting European functions such as supply chain, finance, treasury, marketing, channel development/food service, nutrition, sales development, HR, corporate affairs and legal along with supporting the Irish market. The Irish business is one of Kellogg’s strongest performers.
Having first established a presence on the island in 1990, Dell Technologies has developed a strategic presence here in Ireland with over 5,000 people working for the company. Dell Technologies’ three campuses in Cherrywood, Cork and Limerick have become one global hub for sales, services, centres of excellence solutions development, manufacturing, supply chain operations, engineering, IT and finance. Dell recently unveiled a new AI platform to support research at Munster Technological University.