One of the main aims of the Best Places to Work in IT 2005 awards is to encourage and promote employment best practice. And the organisations that make the shortlist at the end of this year will demonstrate what is required to create a stimulating and rewarding environment.
Best practice is, of course, rooted in the basic philosophy adhered to by the employer, as made clear by Henrik Kiertzner, IT director of the Arup Group, whose IT services group was shortlisted last time.
The critical criteria for a good workplace are "shared values, shared visions, clear goals and policies, mutual respect for others and respect from the employer for the employee," he said.
This mutual respect is becoming increasingly important as the winds of change blow through the workplace, both in terms of the make-up of the staff and the patterns they work to.
"As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, in ethnic, religious, gender, age and other terms, the preservation of a culture of mutual respect and tolerance while still being able to foster humour and team spirit is likely to continue to present a challenge to management," Kiertzner pointed out.
"Equally, work patterns are changing and staff increasingly have quite legitimate aspirations with regard to their lives, as opposed to their work. It is up to management to accommodate these aspirations and help staff realise their own goals while still performing for the employer."
This all feeds back into clear business benefits. "A well-motivated and happy workforce is more productive, more proactive and has greater depth and resilience," said Kiertzner. "As people feel happier, more free and more empowered, they will do amazing things, very few of which are predictable and far fewer of which are negative in result."
With these ends in mind, he sees the Best Places to Work awards as a valuable endorsement of Arup's corporate values and how they are interpreted within the IT group. Making the shortlist last time proved "hugely beneficial, both in terms of staff recruitment and retention and in terms of positioning the IT function within the firm", he said.
The sponsors of the awards
Central and local government: Real IT
Business services : Progressive
Banking and finance: Orgtel Finance
Retail, wholesale and distribution: IT Jobs Board
IT software, hardware and services: Pathway
Media, hospitality, entertainment and leisure: Hudson
Manufacturing and engineering: Hudson
Overall winner: Madison Black