Shortlist announced for Best Places to Work in IT 2009

The shortlist has been drawn up for Computer Weekly's sixth annual Best Places to Work competition.

The shortlist has been drawn up for Computer Weekly's sixth annual Best Places to Work in IT competition.

Congratulations are due to those teams who made it on to the shortlist, beating plenty of good companies to the top spots.

Quality was high this year, with many employers going the extra mile to make their company one of the best places to work in IT.

The shortlisted entries were the best of the bunch, and their entries offer plenty of ideas for improving working life.

One company on the shortlist pays for its employees to take their partner and children out for a meal if their family time has been disrupted by work.

Another provides employees with broadband connections, laptops and even office chairs to encourage employees to work from home. And at one smaller company, shortlisted in the category for businesses with fewer than 200 employees, every employee gets their birthday off.

Great ideas

Other great ideas to surface from the shortlisted group include taking regular soundings of staff opinions, listening to their views on what it's like to work for the company and assessing any changes that might be made.

One company said, "Each year we carry out a staff survey where they rate the company, their managers, and working life. We take the survey seriously, publish the results, and create an action plan at team and company level.

"This has led to all sorts of changes, from toasters in the kitchens, to hand cream in the loos, to extra holiday."

Another company is tackling pay gaps, with a policy of transparency around salaries. Every member of staff has access to an online spread sheet with details of everyone's salary - right up to the CEO. The same company also has a policy of "celebrating mistakes" to make sure people feel free to innovate. And it seems to work. "We have over 2,000 people waiting to hear about new jobs," the company said. "This has reduced our external recruitment costs to zero."

Ask the staff

Computer Weekly didn't just ask the companies who entered why they were good to work for - we asked their staff as well.

Each company was sent questionnaires for their staff to fill in, which included chances for them to rate their own company on how good it is to work for. These ratings were collated to give a company an average score, which could then be compared to the scores of others. Those companies with a higher than average score made the shortlist.

The IT staff we surveyed came up with plenty of praise for their employers, as well as a few suggestions for how to improve things.

To improve their working lives, some want a subsidised office canteen, others want an on-site creche, one employee asked for a free bar, and another wanted to see bean bags in the workplace for a midday rest. One went even further and asked for "relaxation booths with beds for power naps".

Some employees would prefer it if their offices were greener and more environmentally aware, and others want more women in senior positions in the company. Staff are also keen to get rid of "incompetent middle management", get better, clearer career paths and have improved bonus schemes for good workers. Improved communication is also high on the wish-list of many employees, as is the option to work flexible hours "without being made to feel guilty."

Staff appreciate a range of things in different organisations. One member of staff at a financial services company expressed gratitude that the firm had a "prudent fiscal policy", providing job security while other financial companies get hit by the credit crunch. In other companies, staff appreciate having colleagues they get along well with, getting recognition from management, and the ability to achieve a good work-life balance.

The competition winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London in May.

For more details on the competition, and to book a table for the awards ceremony, see www.computerweeklyawards.com.

 

The shortlist

Retail & wholesale

  • Sainsbury's
  • Shop Direct Group

 

Manufacturing, engineering, Construction & utilities

  • Atkins
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Danone
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Shepherd Construction

 

IT software & hardware

  • Box UK
  • Data Connection
  • Erudine
  • Human Recognition Systems
  • Perforce Software UK
  • Snow Valley
  • Softwire
  • Sunrise

 

IT services suppliers

  • Happy
  • Imerja
  • Information Management Group
  • ITRM
  • Network Rail - Information Management
  • RDF
  • Sense Internet
  • SFW
  • Zen Internet

 

Health, social care, non-profit

  • Central Borders Housing Group
  • IDIS
  • National Foundation for Educational Research
  • WWF-UK

 

Government & public service

  • City of London Corporation
  • Transport for London
  • Network Rail - Information Management

 

Business & professional services

  • Creditsafe Group
  • Denplan
  • KPMG
  • Mouchel
  • Quintiles
  • Thompsons Online Benefits

 

Banking & finance

  • Allianz Insurance
  • Britannia Building Society
  • Motability Operations
  • Royal London Asset Management

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