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Best Employers: The search begins to find the best companies to work for in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 14:14 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 03 January 2018

Best Employers Scheme. Left to right, Pauline Smith, Dawn Taylor, Lynn Walters, Jeanette Wheeler and Dee Willmott.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Best Employers Scheme. Left to right, Pauline Smith, Dawn Taylor, Lynn Walters, Jeanette Wheeler and Dee Willmott. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Is your company one of the best employers in the region? A new initiative aims to find the top businesses to work for in East Anglia – and how to improve your workplace.

Best Employers Scheme. Left to right, Dawn Taylor, Pauline Smith, Lynn Walters, Jeanette Wheeler and Dee Willmott.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBest Employers Scheme. Left to right, Dawn Taylor, Pauline Smith, Lynn Walters, Jeanette Wheeler and Dee Willmott. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A fresh initiative to showcase the region’s best companies to work for is launched today, with the aim of creating healthier and more productive workplaces across East Anglia.

Best Employers Eastern Region will recognise the companies that make the extra effort to keep their staff happy and engaged – with the winners chosen by workers themselves.

It aims to help create better places to work for the benefit of employers and employees, as well as to enhance the reputation of the eastern region as a place for ambitious people to build successful careers.

The project, updated for 2018, is a partnership between recruitment company Pure, Archant, the publisher of the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times, psychometric testing experts Eras and regional law firm Birketts.

Best Employers: Find out more and register your interest

Companies take part in the free programme by asking staff to complete a confidential survey, and then receive a full analytical report with recommendations on how they can build on their strengths and remedy their weaknesses.

They are then supported through the process by the project partners at a series of seminars and events, beginning with the introductory launch event on February 27.

Lynn Walters, executive director of Pure, said the survey was the only one of its kind to allow employers in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire to compare themselves with regional competitors for free.

The Best Employers initiative aims to support companies in the region to develop workplaces where staff are motivated and inspired to work. Picture: Pure.The Best Employers initiative aims to support companies in the region to develop workplaces where staff are motivated and inspired to work. Picture: Pure.

“The aim is to encourage as many companies as possible across the Eastern region to get involved in the survey and discussion to create motivating workplaces which get the best out of their people,” she said.

The survey is intended to give employees a confidential way of sharing their views of their employer, and for companies to find out how they can develop a culture and reputation which attracts and retains staff – something no business can afford to ignore.

“Everyone is competing for talent – people are such a precious resource,” said Ms Walters.

“For companies to be economically successful and profitable, they need to work really hard to create the right culture and reputation, where people are motivated to come and work for them.

“Nearly everybody cites people and talent as being the key to their growth. They have to have a great employee reputation out in the market.

“Whatever your business, people are the most important thing a company has. This is getting under the skin of the people element in an organisation and understanding what they want.”

Participating businesses 
will be able to apply for accreditation – a kitemark which shows that it is an employer of choice, as voted for by those who know best.

Alex Pearce, director of assessment at Eras, said Best Employers was not simply about companies winning awards, but for every employer in East Anglia to discover how it could improve and develop more engaged employees.

The Best Employers initiative aims to support companies in the region to develop workplaces where staff are motivated and inspired to work. Picture: Pure.The Best Employers initiative aims to support companies in the region to develop workplaces where staff are motivated and inspired to work. Picture: Pure.

“The survey gives all employees a voice and provides recommendations for organisations on how to improve – not just those who like to complain,” he said, adding that participants were often pleasantly surprised by the findings.

“Some companies may be reluctant to get involved because they are worried about the findings. However, remember that it is much easier to improve than it is to stay the best of the best,” said Mr Pearce.

He said research had shown that companies ranked in the top 25% for staff engagement typically had 18% higher productivity, while engaged staff had lower sickness rates (2.7 days a year compared to 6.2 days for disengaged staff), and there was a strong correlation with profitability.

Jeanette Wheeler, head of the employment team at Birketts, said the scheme would showcase the eastern region as “a thriving place to work”, while the kitemarking would help companies retain and attract talent.

“It is well known that better staff engagement leads to improved productivity and business success,” she said. “We urge every employer in the eastern region to make a New Year’s resolution to get their staff to complete the survey and use it to work out what it needs to do to become a better employer of choice.”

Ms Walters said widespread participation in Best Employers would also serve the region 
as a whole, promoting a part 
of the country at times guilty 
of “hiding its light under a bushel”.

“We want to stop people feeling they need to go to London to get big jobs and prove that in this region you can have a really strong career and amazing work-life balance,” she said.

“Even if companies already complete a similar programme, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from Best Employers.

The LSI team on a study trip to Glasgow, fully subsidised for employees to integrate outside of the office environment and gain inspiration for their work. Picture: LSI Architects.The LSI team on a study trip to Glasgow, fully subsidised for employees to integrate outside of the office environment and gain inspiration for their work. Picture: LSI Architects.

“By taking part they will support the growth and success of this region, helping it to thrive.”

Find out more about Best Employers Eastern Region here

• How Best Employers has helped improve businesses

“People are very important to most businesses, but being an intellectual property business means we only have people,” say Ben Goode, managing partner of LSI Architects.

The firm has taken part in Best Employers since 2012, as part of a drive to create a fulfilling workplace to attract high-quality talent who are “supported, empowered, happy and healthy”.

Following Best Employers reports, the company, which has offices in Norwich and London, found that staff wanted to know more about the company’s long-term goals. It now has staff meetings where all departments update others on their work, an open-door policy where employees can present ideas to or question partners, and an employee board to help the transition towards becoming an employee-ownership trust.

It also has long-term development plans for all employees, and in eight years has lost just four staff who have stayed in the area or gone to competitors.

“It’s all as a result of Best Employers,” said Mr Goode.

• How you can get involved

Best Employers Eastern Region will be formally launched at an event in Newmarket next month.

The February 27 event will bring businesses together to find out more about the scheme and learn how they can gather real-time information to monitor how their employees are feeling.

The new features of the 2018 survey will be outlined, while companies can share ideas on how to create inspiring and innovative places to work.

Guests speakers will include Ian Watson, chief executive of Start-rite Shoes, Ian White, chief executive of Beckett Investment Management Group, and Tracey Locke, group HR director at Mace Consulting.

A full awards ceremony where the eastern region’s Best Employers will be crowned will take place in September.

To find out more, email lucy.plumb@pureexecutive.com, or register here.

Best Employers was founded in 2012 by Pure and Eras, with programmes running in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

The 2016 programme saw 5,478 employees provide feedback for 80 organisations in the region.

• How you can make Best Employers work for you

You can tailor the Best Employers scheme to suit you - from a full, in-depth survey of your entire workforce to a five-minute pulse survey which offers snapshot of a particular area.

After the survey – which can be online or in hard copy – companies are then provided with a report tailored to them, which includes information on how they can progress.

For example, training and development is a big concern for many employees, particularly the younger generation, so the survey would highlight that demand and then offer solutions, said Ms Walters.

Employers are given a range of options to improve their workplaces, and can link up with others to share solutions at seminars and networking events organised by the Best Employers programme.

“The survey is designed so you can find out what people are saying, and then take steps,” said Ms Walters. “You have the power and flexibility to make it suit you.”

To find out more and register your interest, click here.

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