Business & Innovation Magazine showcase 100 Great Places To Work

Feature In Assocation with Pertemps
100-Great Places to work social jpeg

Is your company a great place to work? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ immediately, you may well struggle to recruit this year. 

In our March issue of Business & Innovation Magazine we examine what makes a great place to work and publish our first-ever “100 Great Places to Work” list of companies – In Association with Pertemps.

If your business needs talented professionals to grow, you may have to fight harder for them than ever before.

The biggest challenge to a company’s growth in 2022 will be, according to many HR commentators and surveys, a shortage of talent. It is harder than ever to attract and retain high-achieving employees.

Companies which recognised this a few years ago have a distinct advantage, because building a talent pipeline takes time – years in fact.

Added to that, every business wants to hang on to the employees they’ve got. And that means they are looking at what career growth and promotion prospects they offer, how they can make sure staff feel valued, the quality of their working environments (see our feature on cool office spaces on pages 89-95), and what they can offer them in continuous professional development, life-long learning opportunities and flexibility.

And we haven’t even mentioned the new, pandemic-driven hybrid or remote working, where your staff expect to work wherever they want, or perhaps prefer a four-day working week.

Boosting salaries isn’t always the solution. Not all employers – especially those particularly affected by the pandemic
– have the scope to raise pay at the moment, and with inflation rising this year, it’s difficult to see how some companies will be able to keep up.


So how does a company attract employees?

It starts with the interview process, where the advantage is increasingly lying with the interviewee. Even a couple of years ago the director of a cyber security company told this magazine that some new starters don’t accept that they need to prove themselves before they start discussing promotion or development opportunities.

“They wanted to know at interview, even before they’d got the job, how we were going to support their personal career progression,” the cyber boss said.

But rather than seeing this as the arrogance of an unproven candidate, the company saw it as a compliment. “If you interpret that differently, it means they already see a future with us.”

Job vacancies have been rising to record highs this year, but big gaps in the UK’s labour market remain.

However, it’s not just this country being affected – the World Economic Forum says there will be a global shortage of four million workers by 2024, and the world will need to retrain a billion people.

Carmen Watson, Chair of Solihull-based recruiters Pertemps, says the Covid crisis has driven more people to reconsider their job choices as well as where and how they want to work.

She said: “They are talking to us about changing direction and what they need to qualify for their ideal roles. With technology playing a part in almost every job, they will often need new skills to cope.”

According to a study by the London School of Economics, in the UK approximately half of firms are having difficulty recruiting new workers while around one in five are having issues retaining existing staff.

Around a third of firms have raised wages says the London School of Economics study, but only around 20 per cent have invested in new technologies to help bridge the gap.

One in five businesses said that long-term skills gaps are affecting their ability to recruit workers.

Interestingly, relative to other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, while more of the UK workforce have university degrees, we lag on technical and vocational skills, and the share of the workforce underqualified for work is well above the OECD average.

So where will companies find the talent they need?

A business can offer benefits galore, but they need a pool of talent to draw from, and at the moment it’s just not deep enough.


More young people want apprenticeships

More young people are rejecting the idea of university, with all the debt a degree can rack up, and are favouring those companies which are offering apprenticeships. In fact, more than half of young people in the UK would have considered an apprenticeship had they been given the opportunity a study found.

The poll of 2,000 young people aged between 18-30, conducted by YouGov for The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) last year found

52 per cent would have considered an apprenticeship in their chosen subject.

But not enough schools are pushing apprenticeships. Just one per cent said they received the support they needed to choose an apprenticeship. Almost three in five said their school had helped them with university applications.

The government wants to help, but there is widespread criticism of its apprenticeship levy as not being flexible enough. The CIPD says the levy has failed on every measure and without significant reform into a more flexible training levy, will undermine investment in skills and our economic recovery.

As a result, many companies have returned their unspent apprenticeship funds.


Are university students employable?

Many companies want to attract graduates, but a lack of work experience due to the pandemic has left students themselves feeling unprepared for employment, according to another report, this time published by Bristol-headquartered graduate jobs consultancy Prospects.

Those companies offering quality graduate schemes will inevitably be more attractive to those with a shiny new degree, but running such schemes is expensive. Organisations such as the Civil Service, NHS, the BBC and the UK’s top accountancy companies are regularly cited as offering the best schemes, but that leaves smaller companies without such deep pockets at a disadvantage.

UK universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability
Ranking 2021.

The University of Cambridge comes top, with Oxford a close second and another university in this region, Warwick, at number 14.


Making best use of the existing talent pool

In work, as in life, all most of us ever want is the value of our contribution properly recognised and supported, and we are likely to stay longer in a job if it is.

Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their bosses are much more likely to go above and beyond for the company and take true responsibility for their role, and they’ll probably be happier too.

Setting clear expectations, paying attention to staff when they contribute advice and opinions, or express interest in different aspects of the business, operating transparently, providing the right equipment and workplace environment, and most importantly treating them with respect, will ensure that your existing employees stay longer.

Our research suggests that our first ever list of 100 companies from across the region have all gone a long way to ensuring that they are an employer of choice. There are more firms out there succeeding in doing the right thing for their employees, but no-one should be complacent.

We spend around a third of our entire lives at work, so we might as well enjoy it as much as we can, and that’s where a good employer will win the talent they deserve.


Business & Innovation Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For in Our Region

In our first-ever “100 Great Places to Work” list of companies, all have either been nominated or secured national recognition for their workforce policies. This list showcases some of the great companies to work for in this region. If you believe your company should have been featured please get in touch to nominate for our next one.


Gloucestershire

Barnwood Construction – Construction – Approx. 190 employees

Employee-owned – all employees are invested in making the company successful. “We aim for our people to build long and rewarding careers in construction.”

BPE Solicitors – Law firm – Approx. 140 employees

“I retrained in law after 20 years in other roles but my passion lies with legal services and continuous improvement, not actually delivering law. BPE helped me make best use of my skills,” said an employee.

Clarkson Evans Ltd – Electrical contractors – Approx. 850 employees

Invests heavily in apprenticeships, training them in-house, and employs staff directly rather than using sub-contractors.

Creed Foodservice – Foodservice company – Approx. 380 employees

Awarded a Best Companies ‘2-star’ accreditation in 2020, and one of The Sunday Times Best Companies To Work For.

DF Legal LLP Solicitors – Law firm – Approx. 38 employees 

“The firm particularly looked after employees’ mental health, especially during the stamp duty holiday when those working in the property department were under increased pressure,” said an employee.

EG Carter & Co Ltd – Construction – Approx. 186 employees

Has one of the highest retention rates of staff in the construction industry, it says. Supports staff through the Investors in People Standard, held since 1998.

GCHQ – The largest intelligence agency in the UK – Over 10,000 employees

The agency was recognised in the top 75 employers nationwide for social mobility in the 2021 Social Mobility Index.

GE AviationAviation manufacturer – Approx. 1,600 employees

“Offers a big company environment which means I get to try out more than just one type of engineering and one type of aircraft covering military and civil aviation,” said an employee.

GFirst Local Enterprise – Local Enterprise Partnership – Approx. 24 employees

“Working from home didn’t break the dynamic because the support network is embedded in the company’s culture,” said an employee.

Hazlewoods – Accountants – Approx. 380 employees

As part of its health and wellbeing strategy the company offers activities such as yoga, boot camp, cook well demonstrations and a step challenge for the more competitive employees.

Mears Group – Services to the UK’s housing sector – Approx. 5,192 employees

Voted one of the top 25 best companies to work for last year in the “Best Companies” listing.

Pinpoint Media – Content production agency – Approx. 35 employees

”A close and social environment but definitely no ‘team building’ torture,” said an employee.

Prima Dental Manufacturing Ltd – Manufacturing of precision dental products – Approx. 230 employees

“In a time like we are in now, Prima has been outstanding. It’s nice to have an amazing team which give me constant support whenever I need it,” said an employee.

SLG Brands – Beauty product design and manufacturer – Approx. 125 employees

“SLG is like an incredible work family. It’s great to be part of such a creative team working on fashion and trend-led designs in a fun an innovative studio,” said an employee.

Renishaw PLC – Manufacturing and engineering – Approx. 3,200 employees

“Great company to work for. Good work-life balance, interesting work and friendly colleagues. Lots of benefits and a nice location to work in,” said one employee.

Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc Industrial engineering – Approx. 1,000 employees 

“An employer that puts people, the local community and sustainability first. Good senior management and a very robust business that continues to grow,” said an employee.

St. James’s Place – Wealth management – Approx. 2,500 employees

“Our business is reliant upon our ability to attract diverse talent, but we must do more. We must foster an inclusive environment where people can achieve their potential,” said Chief Executive Andrew Croft.

Willans Solicitors – Law firm – Approx. 100 employees

“Willans are extremely proactive about supporting staff to have good mental and physical health such as lunchtime yoga classes put on in the office by a qualified member of staff.”


Worcestershire

Big Bear Plastic Products Ltd – Vacuum forming and compression moulding – Approx. 80 employees

Implemented a new factory team structure to ensure a clear path of development, from General Operator to Team Leader, to help those wanting to progress their careers within the company.

DRPG – Creative communications – Approx. 358 employees

Holds the Investors in People Platinum Standard and believes in helping team members achieve their full potential.

Foster + Freeman Ltd – Forensic systems design and manufacturer – employee numbers not disclosed

The company’s CEO started as an apprentice and continues to promote the value and importance of apprenticeships within the business.

Halfords Plc – Automotive and cycling retailer – Approx. 12,000 employees

Signed up to the Armed Forced Covenant in 2019 and has since recruited dozens of ex-services personnel.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys Ltd – Law firm – Approx. 809 employees

“I love the level of responsibility I have been given, and the the variety and depth of work I do, with the help of really supportive supervisers.”

Kanes Foods – Leading supplier of prepared meals – employee numbers not disclosed

Employs more than 40 apprentices in engineering, production, health & safety and HR and recognises the value apprentices add to the business.

Payara Services Ltd – Software development company – Approx. 38 employees

A company with a global workforce, Payara nevertheless has quick ‘stand-up’ virtual meetings to keep everyone up-to-date and eliminate any bottlenecks or blockers for completing tasks.

SJL Insurance Services – Insurance services – Approx. 78 employees

SJL Insurance Services has achieved ‘Investors in People’ accreditation twice in a row and believes strongly in the value of its employees in the company’s growth strategy.

Sanctuary Housing Association – Housing and care provider – Approx. 13,000 employees

Aiming to be an employer by offering great working environments, competitive terms and conditions and nurturing potential through the Sanctuary Learning Academy.

Speller Metcalfe – Construction – Approx. 215 employees

“I can be working with a director one day and a trainee the next. It doesn’t really feel like there is a hierarchy. Everyone helps everyone,” said an employee.

Worcester Bosch – UK market leader in domestic boilers – Approx. 1,800 employees

The company has four training academies in the UK, including in Worcester, and is in partnership with more than 80 training colleges.

Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd – Manufacturer of CNC and other machines – Approx. 880 employees

“There is great emphasis at Mazak on investing in apprentices to help them develop into capable  engineers, and perhaps more importantly – good people too,” said an employee.


Coventry & Warwickshire

Alliance Medical Ltd – Independent provider of imaging services – Approx. 1,000 employees

“Alliance Medical has a wonderful structure in place: a safe working environment, continuous professional and personal skills development and every staff member has a voice,” said an employee.

BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK – Finance – Approx. 720 employees

Named a top employer in the UK for 2022 by the Top Employers Institute.

Bravissimo – Lingerie – Approx. 618 employees

Responding to the Black Lives Matter campaign Bravissimo create digital listening groups to hear personal accounts of discrimination experienced by employees.

CloudThing – Software – Approx. 75 employees

The company did not furlough anyone during the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the company used the working-from-home period to improve its offices.

Coventry Building Society – Building society – Approx. 2,666 employees

The UK’s second largest building society took on a bumper crop of 45 apprentices last year.

Jaguar Land Rover – Car manufacturer – Approx. 30,000 employees

Jaguar Land Rover’s Learning Academy offers lifelong learning and relevant and personalised learning content.

NFU Mutual – Insurance – Approx. 4,000 employees

Regular winner of employer awards, the company aims to support employee wellbeing and encourage them to develop their career.

National Grid – Utility company – Approx. 6,657 employees

Part of a global collective of 500 influential businesses to unlock the value of the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities around the world.

Pertemps – Recruitment agency – Approx. 720 employees

Staff have a vested interested in the business. Everyone, provided they have done a six-month qualifying period, can buy shares which Pertemps matches.

REPL Group Worldwide Ltd – Marketing communications agency – Approx. 47 employees

Named as a 2021 Best Place to Work in Tech. Also included in the London Stock Exchange’s Top 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.

Severn Trent – Water supplier – Approx. 7,000 employees

Encourages its people to think of every day as an opportunity to do something better. “Ambitious goals depend on forward-thinking ideas, no matter who they come from.”

Shakespeare Martineau LLPLaw firm – Approx. 900 employees

The Shakespeare Martineau Academy is the firm’s “nerve centre” for training and learning resources for everyone at whatever stage of their career.

Solid Solutions – Engineering and manufacturing – Approx. 180 employees

Regularly appears in Top Companies listings. Runs a support and training programme for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Sumo Digital Ltd – Games developer – Approx. 731 employees

Recipient of the Diversity Award and recognised as one of the Best Places to Work at the Business Best Places to Work Awards.

WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) – Further education college – Approx. 1,400 employees

Launched Wellbeing@WCG for all employees. The new initiative aims to bring wellbeing to life for staff members and will focus on different topics throughout the year tailored to needs.


Oxfordshire

Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc – Biotechnology – Approx. 232 employees

“We strive to create a culture where people can develop and have a rewarding career with an inspiring purpose.”

Bibby Financial Services – Invoice finance specialist – Approx. 700 employees

Job adverts are gender neutral to promote flexible working and make roles more attractive to female candidates and those with caring responsibilities.

Freeths LLP – Law firm – Approx. 900 employees

A Sunday Times UK Top 100 Companies to Work, in the mid-sized companies category.

Grundon Waste Management – Waste management – Approx. 750 employees

Committed to training, many employee benefits, a Living Wage employer.

Hawkins Group of Companies Ltd – Construction and project management – Approx. 90 employees

Recognised that Covid-19 was tough on its staff . Made a private counsellor available to all staff , for as much time as they needed. The company footed the bill.

Ispen UK & IrelandBiotechnology and pharmaceuticals – Approx. 80 employees

Ranked Top 60 in the UK’s Best Workplaces 2021 Medium category by Great Places to Work.

Inca Accountants Ltd – Accountants – Approx. 11 employees

Holder of an Investors in People Silver Award and a finalist in the international Business Excellence Forum for best company culture.

Newton Europe – Business management – Approx. 524 employees

A Times 100 Graduate Employers employer. Named a Top 75 employer by the Social Mobility Foundation.

Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt – Environmental consultancy – Approx. 34 employees

Investors in People Bronze Award holder, Personal Development Plan for every member of staff.

Oodle Financial Services Ltd – Finance – Approx. 400 employees

14th in The Sunday Times 100 Best Mid-sized Companies to Work For 2019, named a Top 100 Large Companies to Work For by Best Companies in 2021.

Oxford PharmaGenesis – Healthcare – Approx. 293 employees

“To my delight, I have found that different personalities are not only welcomed at Oxford PharmaGenesis, but also embraced and cultivated,” said an employee.

Saïd Business School – Education – Approx. 524 employees

Athena Swan bronze award for advancing gender equality, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Mindful Employer, and holds a Race Equality Charter bronze award from Advance HE.

The Peach Pub Company Ltd – Gastropub operator – Approx. 500 employees

Named one of the Top 10 food and drink employers in the UK by Best Companies.

The Rooflight Company – Construction – Approx. 44 employees

West Oxfordshire Business Awards Employer of the Year 2020, an employee owned company.

Unipart Group – Logistics and supply chain management – Approx. 6,192 employees

Has been awarded more Swords of Honour for Health and Safety than any other company in the world: 48 in the past seven years.

University of Oxford – Higher education – Approx. 14,000 employees

Oxfordshire’s Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year. A Stonewall Top 100 Employer for support of the LGTBQ+ community, a Living Wage employer.

VoCoVo – Telecommunications – Approx. 80 employees

“We’re a close-knit team who put each other first. Who care about having a great place to work, where there’s time for coffee and a catch-up as well as serious discussion.”


Thames Valley

AND Digital – Digital skills – Approx. 747 employees

Offers 13 days for upskilling and innovation every year, two volunteering days and £1,000 each year to put towards benefits, a piece of tech or as cash.

Abbott Laboratories Ltd – Healthcare – Approx. 1,523 employees

On-site gym, flexible working, relocation assistance, share ownership plan, employees can “buy and sell” up to five days holiday a year.

Alliance Pharma plc – Pharmaceuticals – Approx. 143 employees

Named a Top 100 employer by Great Place to Work Alliance offers all employees time off to volunteer for their favourite charities.

Dyson – Manufacturing technology – Approx. 3,000 employees

The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology is based on campus for Dyson undergraduate engineers – who also live there during term.

EW Beard – Construction company – Approx. 239 employees

In 2020 awarded an Investors in People Health & Wellbeing Good Practice Award, to go alongside the IIP Gold Status the firm has held since 2011.

Excalibur Communications – IT and telecoms provider – Approx. 49 employees

Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, high retention with 40 per cent of employees working there for more than five years.

Freixenet Copestick – Sparkling wine supplier – Approx. 59 employees

Named in Top 10 food and drink businesses to work for in UK.

FSP Consulting Services Ltd – Information Technology – Approx. 86 employees

Voted a Great Place to Work in Tech. “I have worked in a few companies but few really have the same vibe of one team working together,” said an employee.

NSBRC (National Self-Build & Renovation Centre) – Construction – Approx. 15 employees

Employee-owned company, living wage employer, Employee Ownership Association Stories 2021 award winner for Business Resilience.

Nationwide Building Society – Financial – Approx. 17,000 employees

Has eight Employee Network Groups ensuring diversity in physical ability, gender, LGBTQ+, faith and belief, race. Supports veterans and reservists, working families, working carers.

Revere Agency Ltd – Marketing communications agency – Approx. 47 employees

Named among 100 Best Small Companies to Work for by Best Companies. 40 per cent of senior managers are women.

Softcat plc UK – Technology solutions – Approx. 1,500 employees

Named one of the Top 20 Tech Firms to Work For by  Glassdoor.

Tanium UK Ltd – Information technology – Approx. 164 employees

Voted a Great Place to Work in Tech in 2021.

Thames Valley Utilities Ltd – Water supplier – Approx. 7,000 employees

A Top 50 Employers for Women 2021 winner. First  water company ever to be awarded Disability  Confident Leader status. Real Living Wage employer.

Volume Ltd – Digital content provider – Approx. 65 employees

Named among the 30 Best Marketing and Media  Agencies to Work for by Best Companies.

Woven Solutions Group – Outsourced contact centre – Approx. 248 employees

Holder of an Investors in People award, counselling  programme, recommend a friend bonus.

Zurich Insurance plc – Insurance – Approx. 4,500 employees

Recipient of a Glassdoor Employers Choice Award. A flexible work programme has seen demand for part-time jobs from women increase by 83 per cent.


Bristol & South Gloucestershire

Aardman Animations Ltd – Animation studio – Approx. 450 employees

Living Wage employer. “Talented people, united by a  fun, collaborative working environment and a unique  and quirky culture.”

Amba People Ltd – Employee benefits – Approx. 38 employees

Offers flexible working and dogs-in-the-office days.

Brightpearl – Software – Approx. 186 employees

Team building events and socials, flexible working, lunch and learn meetings, paid volunteer days, a  cycle scheme, subsidised gym membership.

Burges Salmon LLP – Law firm – Approx. 1,000 employees

Featured on the Social Mobility Employer Index. Named best law firm to work at by RollOnFriday. Platinum Investors in People accreditation.

Business West – Business services – Approx. 200 employees

Named one of Top 20 best business services companies to work for by Best Companies.

Fourth Floor Creative – Influencer marketing – Approx. 33 employees

Has a Wellbeing Warriors group, online games nights, charity fundraising.

GDS Group – B2B events – Approx. 234 employees

Named Number Two Top-Rated UK Workplace by Indeed.co.uk in 2019.

Ghyston – Software – Approx. 43 employees

National Undergraduate Employability Awards Best Employer finalist 2018.

Home – Employee experience agency – Approx. 21 employees

Staff perks include a weekly lunch prepared by colleagues, a personal development fund of £750, healthcare, seated massages and fresh fruit.

Hydrock Consultants Ltd – Engineering consultants – Approx. 533 employees

Supported staff wellbeing through the pandemic, including launching HydrockTV to keep staff connected, informed and entertained.

Immersive Labs – Cybersecurity – Approx. 119 employees

Time off for birthdays and volunteering, £250 to support mental health, £250 to learn a new skill.

Icon Films – Production company – Approx. 127 employees

Organises mentoring courses and mindfulness classes, free fruit, free yoga sessions.

RedRock Consulting Ltd – Professional services – Approx. 93 employees

Named best small company to work for in the UK 2021 by Best Companies.

Rockpool Digital – Digital marketing – Approx. 47 employees

The company says: “You won’t have a boss, no one does. You’ll manage your own hours. We don’t do appraisals, we just talk, like normal people do.”

Torchbox – Digital agency – Approx. 70 employees

Employee owned, named among 100 Best Small Companies to Work for by Best Companies.

Triodos Bank UK – Ethical bank – Approx. 204 employees

Living Wage Employer, B Corporation, certified by Women In Business, Women In Finance, and Ethical Jobseeker.

Xledger Ltd – Software company – 37 employees

Living Wage Employer, B Corporation, certified by Women In Business, Women In Finance, and Ethical Jobseeker.


Pan-Regional

Crowe UK – Accountants – Approx. 1,000 employees

Crowe’s Women’s Empowerment Programme is designed to create a culture where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

GKN Aerospace Services Ltd – Aerospace engineering – Approx. 3,500 employees

Apprentice: “GKN offered the perfect mix between the shop floor and the office. I get to follow the whole cycle from design to production here.”

Haines Watts Group – Accountants – Approx. 1,100 employees

Named one of the UK’s Top Ten accountancy and advisory practices to work for by Best Companies.

Kolher Mira Ltd – Manufacturing – employee numbers not disclosed

Rose to the Covid challenge by offering three types of working: On-site associates, hybrid associates, remote associates (home-office).


This feature has been published inside out March Issue of Business & Innovation Magazine – Pages 88-95 – in association with Pertemps.

To see the feature in print, read our latest edition online.

1745_NK – B&I-100 Great Places to Work Leaderboard