Motivate staff to be the best

The awards ceremony for Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT 2005 provided a fitting climax to this year's search for the...

The awards ceremony for Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT 2005 provided a fitting climax to this year's search for the organisations that provide beacons of best practice in staff attraction, retention and motivation.

But behind the glamour lay the serious and sustained efforts of all the entrants to make their organisation a place where people feel glad to be - not only because of good pay and benefits, but because they are part of a team engaged in work which they both enjoy and see as valuable.

As the IT jobs market picks up, every employer of IT professionals needs to make sure that they are a best place to work - whether or not they entered the Computer Weekly awards.

As George Cox, the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony made clear, competitive advantage increasingly depends on an imaginative approach to staff attraction and retention - a policy that stops at the pay packet will never provide effective motivation for talented people.

The former Unisys chief, who now heads the Design Council, has long experience of staff motivation first hand and his eight-point plan (see page 22) is one that all organisations would do well to check their operations against.

One of Cox's most crucial points is the need to provide staff with work that stretches them, a factor which played a key role in the Best Places to Work judging criteria. Work-life balance does not simply mean how much time staff have to spend with family and friends, but that their creativity finds acceptance and stimulation at work.

And in an age where the job for life is a concept that younger members of the workforce have never even heard of, the development of their skills is the only way companies can offer their staff security.

The individual's security of tenure in a job has been replaced by the security of marketable skills in an increasingly competitive jobs marketplace.

An IT team member at one of the shortlisted entrants to the Best Places awards put it succinctly, "The key thing is that you carry on learning, doing new things, working with other people you respect and grow with - making a difference."

The organisation which can truly provide such a stimulating environment will have the most talented staff queuing at its door as the competition for key IT skills continues to intensify.

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