The benefits of staff development

No employer would be considered a good employer if they did not strive to bring on those who work there and maximise the individual potential of every member of staff.

No employer would be considered a good employer if they did not strive to bring on those who work there and maximise the individual potential of every member of staff.

Among those shortlisted for this year's Best Place to Work in IT Awards there is plentiful evidence that career development for IT staff is as high a priority as ever.

But the payoff for employers who make this a key focus is twofold. Not only do they create a highly satisfying place to work, and thereby attract and retain excellent staff, they also, by developing the careers of their staff, increase their own skills assets, and improve their own intellectual capital and expertise bank to draw on for the benefit of the organisation.

Career development requires a variety of activities by an employer. Good quality assessment and appraisal is the essential starting point.

Both continuous assessment - such as at shortlisted business services company, Eaga - and more frequent appraisals - as used by construction, agriculture and mining firm WSP Group, which holds formal performance reviews three times a year - show the way to gaining a much closer and more intimate understanding of how well an employee is performing in their current role.

It also identifies, at the earliest point possible, where and when an employee either needs, or has become ready for, further formal development, or if they have reached a level to increase the scope of their contribution to the employer.

The judges of the Best Places to Work Awards noted that good employers are increasingly moving towards a much fuller spectrum of assessment. It is no longer enough to evaluate the contribution an employee makes by top-down metrics - assessment of the more junior by the more senior staff.

Employers are recognising that bottom-up metrics - assessment of the more senior by the more junior - can lead to a much more rounded and insightful appreciation of an employee's performance in their workplace.

Such 360-degree appraisals   not only make transparent the employer's previous "blindside" on an individual by taking input from their peers and more junior staff, but their presence in an organisation is an active demonstration to all employees that the employer is more consensual and less rigidly hierarchical, and values the insight of all staff, however junior.

Shortlisted organisations that have adopted this approach include the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and WSP Group, where staff vote on the performance of their peers.

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
  • Citigroup

Central and local government

  • Companies House
  • City of London
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Land Registry

IT services, including outsource providers

  • Cobweb Solutions
  • ITRM
  • Tessella Support Services

Other public/non-profit sector

  • Legal Services Commission
  • London Business School
  • Nominet UK
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Construction, agriculture and mining

  • Davis Langdon
  • WSP Group

Manufacturng and engineering

  • Atkins
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • PepsiCo UK
  • Procter & Gamble

IT software  and  hardware

  • Compuware
  • 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
  • Yell

Utilities and communications

  • Judges' special award to be announced.

The judging panel

The members of the judging panel for Best Places to Work in IT2006 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 IBMCUA 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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