Good communication is firmly at the top of the list of criteria for a successful workplace, according to Chris Guest, president of public sector IT directors' group Socitm and head of head of technology and improvement at Flintshire County Council.
"Well informed staff normally will increase motivation," said Guest, who is one of the judges for the Computer Weekly Best Places to Work in IT 2005 awards.
"I am also a strong advocate of empowerment as a means of motivation: staff having clear vision and direction, with strong support, but with the freedom to get on with the job in hand and being encouraged to innovate."
Guest does not discount the importance of pay in the process of recruiting the right staff but he believes that other factors such as providing stimulating challenges are of equal, if not greater, importance. "If you look at local government and the huge number of services it provides, the IT and communications technology challenges councils face are far greater than the majority of private sector companies," he said.
"This helps us to retain staff but we have to be far more proactive in attracting high-quality new recruits to our sector, particularly graduates."
Having recruited the right staff, the challenge for any IT director will be to stop them getting itchy feet. Staff who are stimulated and happy in their workplace are more productive.
"High employee satisfaction correlates with high performance and high levels of customer satisfaction (happy staff means happy customers), it will also reduce staff turnover and sickness and absence rates," said Guest.
The judging panel
The members of the judging panel for Best Place to Work in IT2005 combine the best of business, IT and employment expertise. They include:
- British Computer Society With a membership of more than 42,000, the BCS is the leading professional and learned society in the field of computers and IT.
- IT Directors' Network This social, networking club for heads of IT (or equivalent) was formed more than 18 months ago. Co-founders Roger Ellis and Julie Loveday have had a long association with the IT industry.
- UK Oracle User Group An organisation that provides an independent voice for corporations and individuals using Oracle products and technologies in the UK and Ireland.
- E-Skills UK The industry body responsible for articulating and acting on the IT skills needs of UK employers.
- National Computing Centre The independent membership and research organisation whose mission is to promote the more effective use of IT.
- Communications Management Association The UK's premier business communications user association represents individuals who have responsibility for communications systems. Members are drawn from the ranks of the top 1,000 UK organisations.