Think you’re the best? Prove it

Let’s talk about the best employers of the country – those who are ready to do more for their workers.

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If you think your company is one of the best workplaces in Britain, it’s time to apply for the 2017 Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For. These are the lists of firms providing the best services to their employees, created according to the established benchmark.

If you become the Best Company to Work For, it will mean your workers wish you to become even more successful, and they are ready to work more to ensure the success.

The rating really changes the companies’ treatment of their employees. For example, the leader of the 2016 list, online insurer Simply Business, changed its policies to make the workers their first concern.

According to the chief executive Jason Stockwood, the company has changed the hackneyed customers-first stereotype.

“You can’t force people who hate their environment to do a good job. Customers only come first if our employees are happy.”

More firms recognise engaging with staff improves their ability to recruit and retain high-quality people. Research by our partner Best Companies shows that the 25 Best Big Companies to Work For — those with more than 3,000 employees — lead the way when it comes to teamwork, personal development and leadership.

Our study also demonstrates that being a Best Company has a positive effect on customer experience and profitability. Consistent high rankers in the Big Companies list include the car retailer Sytner Group, which has 6,355 employees and showed a 28.9% growth in profit over five years. The frozen-food retailer Iceland, which employs 21,894 staff, reported a 35.2% rise during the same period.

More organisations are getting involved year on year, meaning that competition is hotting up for a place on one of our lists for 2017.

There are four categories:

• The 100 Best Companies to Work For — aimed at mid-sized firms with 250 to 3,000 employees

• The 25 Best Big Companies to Work For — aimed at businesses with 3,000-plus staff

• The 100 Best Small Companies to Work For — aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with 50-249 employees

• The 100 Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work For — a category for charities and public sector bodies of all sizes.

This year’s surveys collected the opinions of 241,361 employees within 831 companies and organisations taking part.

Whether you are the chief executive or the cleaner, if you think your firm is an excellent employer, see how it measures up against the UK’s top players in the 2017 Best Companies lists.

Any public or private company, partnership, government agency or not-for-profit organisation that is at least five years old can enter.

It takes a brave employer to allow an outside organisation to survey its people, but the culture in our winning companies embraces honesty and openness. Via a 70-point employee questionnaire, it is the staff themselves who give us a frank and unadulterated insight into their working lives. It is their opinions alone that determine an organisation’s ranking.

The questionnaire measures eight critical influences on the workplace experience. They are:

• Leadership — how people feel about the head of the organisation and the most senior managers

• Personal growth — to what extent people feel stretched by their job

• My manager — people’s relationship with their day-to-day managers

• My company — feelings about the company itself, as opposed to the people they work with

• My team — people’s feelings about their immediate colleagues

• Wellbeing — how people feel about stress, pressure and the balance between their work and home life

• Giving something back — how much companies are thought to put back into society and the community

• Fair deal — how happy people are with their pay and benefits.

“Since its development the survey has been reviewed annually using data from more than 200,000 respondents to verify that it continues to provide high-quality measurement of the eight factors and to ensure that it adapts to changes in the workplace,” says Ian Dennis, director of research at Best Companies.

Success in these eight factors generates “employee engagement”, the term that defines the quality and strength of the relationship between the workforce and the organisation.

Many companies that do not make the final lists use the process to identify how to come back stronger in the future — and, more importantly, how to create a better workplace for their staff.

As Jonathan Austin, chief executive of Best Companies, says: “While organisations do work with us with the ultimate goal of achieving a place on the lists, their real motivation is to identify how they can make their organisation a better place to work.”

The extensive feedback from Best Companies will provide all the pointers an employer, whatever its size or sector, needs. The online workplace insight tool provides flexible and interactive access to the data. Results are available as a summary for the company overall, and firms can compare their results against benchmarks constructed from others on the list or from their own sector.

If you think your organisation measures up to the high standards enjoyed by workers in our Best Companies lists, now is the time to put your confidence to the test.

Applications for next year’s list will close on September 16 for big organisations and October 7 for small and medium-sized companies. Getting involved couldn’t be simpler. You can find nomination forms online at b.co.uk.

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