Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

Version 1 named 4th-best place to work in Ireland due to its employee engagement programme

By Business & Finance
29 June 2018
employee engagement, healthy workplace

In the Employee Experience series, sponsored by Irish Life, we ask leading companies’ HR departments about their employee engagement initiatives and how they have created the most optimal workplace for their staff.


What is Version 1?

Version 1 delivers IT services and solutions to customers’ businesses in relation to independent advice in helping those customers see their way through the rapidly changing technology world.

With 1,140 staff across the firm, Version 1 looks to “achieve Customer Success, Empowered People and a Strong Organisation, underpinned to commitment to [their] values.”

The company has established itself as a forward-thinking place to work, not just in what it offers its clients, but in what it offers staff.

Version 1’s Employee Experience – the fourth-best place to work in Ireland

Jarlath Dooley is the HR and Integration Director at Version 1. He spoke about how company culture changed and improved during a rapid period of growth. He stressed it was a conscientious decision to undertake this employee engagement programme.

10 years ago we were 120 people or so and we decided as part of our growth strategy we would embark on a world-class employee engagement programme. Our measure of our progress, of our success, our external benchmark, was going to be ‘The Great Place to Work’ assessment.

He continued: “We improved our position on it year on year. We’re the fourth-best workplace in Ireland.”

Responding to the feedback

One of the most important elements of this was looking at every facet of the employee experience and adapting as Version 1 moved forward.

Every aspect of the employee experience has been looked at and changed over the years and we will continue to do that.

The most telling change would have to be the elimination of the Annual Appraisal process.

We’re probably one of the first companies to abandon the Annual Appraisal process and instead put in quarterly checkpoints with frequent 1-1 check-in meetings in between.

Dooley went on to say: “There’s no annual process, no paperwork to fill in, no ratings and all the bad stuff people talk about nowadays. We got rid of that about eight years ago and we put a huge focus on communications – having frequent, stand-up communications with staff and lots of feedback mechanisms such as quarterly surveys, local engagement feedback sessions, a virtual suggestion box, ask the CEO, etc.”

project management

Listening is huge in Version 1: “We survey our staff every quarter – as well as the Great Place to Work, we do four quarterly surveys with staff. We have sessions with the CEO, sessions with me… There are loads of ways for people to give feedback and it’s a means by which we can communicate with them.”

The DNA of Version 1

These main mechanisms boil down to transparency with workers. Dooley was proud to mention ‘The DNA of Version 1’, with the tagline: “A great place to work, not an ‘easy’ place to work.”

This tagline was devised to give people a clear understanding of what it’s like to work for a fair but challenging organisation – “If you invest in us, we’ll ensure that we invest in you.”

Dooley said this is made a lot easier due to two central tenets.

Our whole strategy here is summed up in two words, which are ‘trust’ and ‘empowerment’.

“We’re trying to build a culture of trust, number one, that’s where we trust our employees and they trust the company. Number two is empowerment – particularly with the generation coming through in the last five years […] they don’t want to be micromanaged. The best quote I heard is from an employee who said, ‘If you want to try something new, Version 1 just gets out of your way and if you mess up, you mess up – just try again’.”

“That is the essence of why people come to Version 1 – a culture built on trust and empowerment with a passion for growth. We started this journey with 120 people and by the end of this year we will have 1,200.”

Communication, transparency and openness make Version 1’s employees happy

With the likes of Version 1’s organic approach of communication, transparency and formulating a culture of trust and empowerment, many see it as a dynamic and healthful place do work, with fair and challenging opportunities and prospects available through its employee experience initiatives.

This doesn’t just boil down to money or perks – this is an environment where staff can see the employer cares about career development and up-front honesty, all the hallmarks of a forward-thinking company who values their employees.


The Employee Experience Award will be held in October and nominations are open now. If you wish to nominate your company please fill in a very short questionnaire here.