Real rewards of working life

This week is your final chance to enter Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT awards, created to showcase the best IT departments in the UK.

This week is your final chance to enter Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT awards, created to showcase the best IT departments in the UK.

A key theme of this year's awards ceremony will be corporate social responsibility - using the skills and resources of your IT department to give back to the community. Sadly, for many firms corporate social responsibility is a buzzword that appears in the annual report, rather than something that truly engages employees. But, used properly, it can reap long-term benefits for the community, the company and staff.

A case in point is property services firm Telereal. After winning its category in last year's Best Places to Work awards, the firm has gone on to encourage its staff to help local schoolchildren with IT skills.

Not only do staff find it rewarding, this approach is helping companies such as Telereal establish valuable local contacts and raise their profile as an employer of choice. This will become increasingly important if we are to reverse the decline in young people studying IT.

Like it or not, IT departments will have to market themselves and build their reputations outside the organisation if they are to attract top IT professionals.

Pay is not the only factor when people choose an employer. A reputation for training, challenging work, and a culture that values people and treats them with respect, are often far more important.

Offering flexible working and the opportunity to balance work with other commitments is now standard practice in many IT departments. The Best Places to Work awards are your chance to win recognition for your efforts. Even if you don't win, simply entering can help raise the profile of your department.

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