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The shortlist for the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards highlights the most progressive employers across all vertical sectors.

The shortlist for the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards highlights the most progressive employers across all vertical sectors.

Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards recognise those organisations which have placed themselves at the forefront of best practice in the workplace.

The judges kept in mind three main criteria during the selection of the shortlist:

  • Positive working environment as evidenced by effective team building, stimulating projects and an innovative and attractive benefits package
  • Continued professional development as evidenced by enjoyable and effective training, coaching and mentoring as well as valuable appraisal methods and genuine career progression
  • Practical evidence of commitment to a fulfilling work/life balance and to equal opportunities.

Work/life balance is a term that has come into common parlance, possibly reflecting a swing of the pendulum back against the "macho" long-hours culture which flourished unchallenged in the 1990s. The onward march of mobile IT and communications devices has promised much in the way of flexible working, although the executive wedded to their Blackberry may sometimes feel the payoff has been one way - to the employer's benefit.

The Best Places judging panel noted the difficulty in creating flexible working patterns that are fair to everybody, especially when there is a risk that giving flexibility to one member of staff may create extra work for others.

Offering sabbaticals to staff seems to be a growing trend, the judges observed, although some employers place restrictions on where and how sabbaticals may be spent. Others have a more laissez-faire approach which may chime well with the aspirations of a younger generation which favours long stints of travel in long-haul destinations.

Some judges thought that the impact of Australians and South Africans working in UK IT departments has added to this trend, giving more of the younger staff the desire to travel.

With regard to strictly work matters, there was debate as to what made for a stimulating working environment.

Conventional wisdom has it that development work and projects make for greater stimulation and job satisfaction, compared to ongoing IT work, but the judges questioned this formula for happy workers.

"A development organisation is a development organisation, and developers are typically working with the business and analysts - but support and maintenance, and working in specific, more focused areas can still be quite exciting," one observed.

The judges agreed on the importance of all staff having personal career development plans, and welcomed the move away from annual reviews to six-monthly or quarterly reviews.

Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT2006 Awards are organised in association with international recruitment services organisation PSD and are sponsored by consultancy Atkins, Barclays Service Operations and recruitment and resourcing firms Capita Resourcing, Madison Black, ReThink Recruitment and Spring Technology.

The shortlist

Final winners of the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards will be selected from the organisations listed below:

Banking and finance
Barclays, Service Operations
Birmingham Midshires
Britannia Building Society 

Central and local government
Companies House
City of London
Lancashire County Council
Land Registry

IT services, including outsource providers
Cobweb Solutions
Tessella Support Services

Other public/non-profit sector
Legal Services Commission
London Business School
Nominet UK
Royal Society for the Protection of Bird

Construction, agriculture and mining
Davis Langdon
WSP Group

Manufacturing and engineering
PepsiCo UK
Procter & Gamble

IT software  and  hardware 
Data Connection 
Smart Human Logistics
Welcom Software

Business services
Berwin Leighton Paisner
Eaga Partnership
OCS Group

Retail, wholesale and distribution
Greggs (head office IT)
Past Times
Tesco Stores

Media, hospitality, entertainment and leisure
Chelsea Football Club

Utilities and communications
Judges' special award to be announced.


The judges

The members of the judging panel for Best Places to Work in IT 2006 combine the best of business, IT and employment expertise. They include:

British Computer Society
The BCS provides service and support to the IT community, including IT practitioners and employers of IT practitioners. It also acts to generate public awareness and appreciation of the associated social and economic benefits of IT. The BCS was formed to establish and maintain appropriate standards of education and experience for people working in IT or studying to enter the profession.

IBM Computer Users Association
The IBM CUA is an independent organisation that arranges briefings on topical business-related IT subjects for IT managers and directors. The objective of each event is to provide attendees with information that can be used in their organisation to realise real benefits. Subjects range from the value of specific technologies to the business and how to deal with the latest issues to technical education for IBM iSeries users.

The Corporate IT Forum (Tif)
Tif is a subscriber organisation representing the corporate IT user community. Members, which come from some of the UK's largest blue chip organisations, work together to find practical solutions to everyday issues facing corporate IT, from technical architecture to policy and managing supplier relationships.
Centre of Computing & Social Responsibility
The CCSR is an academic body that carries out research and provides teaching, consultancy and advice to individuals, communities, organisations and governments at local, national and international levels on the actual and potential impact of computing and related technologies on society and its citizens.

Institute of Directors
The Institute of Directors provides a professional network that reaches into every corner of the business community. Its global membership spans the spectrum of business leadership, from the largest
public companies to the smallest private firms.

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