The search is on for the UK's best IT departments as Computer Weekly's sixth annual Best Places to Work in IT Awards kick off.
The awards aim to find and promote the UK's best IT departments with a positive work environment, a healthy work/life balance and opportunities for personal development.
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Entry is open to any company IT department that would like to raise its profile, get vital feedback from staff, and benchmark itself against peers in nine industry sectors.
Every IT department that enters and submits the required level of employee responses will receive an individual company report compiled by independent research agency Reed Business Insight.
Brian McKenna, Computer Weekly editor, says employee opinion reports have become a valued part of the HR function, identifying what works well and what needs to be improved.
"Being judged by your own employees is the most powerful measure of employer success," he said.
Reed Business Insight will collate the separate responses from IT directors and employees to rank companies according to performance.
The results will be used to judge each category and draw up a shortlist for each award, which will be published in February next year.
Shortlisted companies will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 22 May 2009 when the winners in each category will be revealed.
IT departments will also compete to be recognised as the Best of the Best, and will for the first time compete in two size divisions depending on the number of employees.
A winning combination
Yorkshire Water was the winner of the single Best of the Best award last year, earning praise for its commitment to providing an environment and lifestyle that made staff comfortable.
Pearl Murphy, IT programme manager at Yorkshire Water, said being a winner has definitely helped with recruitment at universities.
"When people are thinking of careers in IT, they do not always think of a utility company as an option, but the awards have raised our profile locally and nationally," she said.
The IT department intends to build on its success to become a world class operation and help Yorkshire Water achieve recognition as one of the top 100 places to work in the UK.
"Ever since the awards, we have been thinking about how we can build on the things that helped us win," said Murphy.
The company has developed a number of initiatives aimed at further improving its strategies for communication, team management, leadership, planning, training and staff development.
As well as taking overall honours, Yorkshire Water was the winner in the utilities and telecoms category.
Other category winners included Britannia Building Society, The Coal Authority and Ashridge.
Britannia Building Society won the banking category for its focus on staff retention with its policy of filling vacancies by internal promotion.
In the central government category, The Coal Authority was the winner for its commitment to investment in training and the wide scope of training provided.
Independent business school Ashridge won the non-profit category, earning praise for its flexible working environment and activities to promote IT-business integration.
Be the best
Does your IT department have what it takes to be the best in its class or even the best of the best? Find out by entering Computer Weekly's Best Places to work in IT 2009.
Entries must be received by 31 October 2008 and the employee responses about what their company offers must be submitted to the researchers by 28 November 2008.