Case study: Sandwell and P3 reach for the stars

Two charities score top marks in Best Companies' workplace engagement ranking system.

Both Sandwell Community Caring Trust and the social inclusion charity P3 have been awarded the maximum three stars for the second year running by the workplace engagement organisation Best Companies.

The organisation, which compiles the annual Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, introduced the star rating system to recognise employee engagement. One star translates as 'first class', three stars as 'extraordinary'.

Both charities will discover whether they have made it into the Sunday Times Top 100 next week (4 March). Sandwell Community Caring Trust, which provides care to adults and children with physical and learning disabilities, came sixth in 2005, when the list was launched, and second last year.

Thirty per cent of an organisation's workforce has to take part in an anonymous survey for it to be eligible for the list. In the case of Sandwell CCT, 87 per cent participated. It came first overall for maintaining a good work-life balance and second for employees feeling like they were in their dream job.

These impressive rankings are backed by the fact that staff each took on average only 0.6 days of sick leave last year.

Geoff Walker, chief executive of the trust, says: "When we came sixth the first year, I was over the moon. But then I looked at the small print and discovered that we didn't even make it on to the scale for the question 'do your senior managers do a lot of talking but not much listening?'

"So that was something we made real efforts to improve, and the following year we came fifth overall for the same question. If you try to change too many things, you don't do well in any of them, so it makes more sense to focus on one or two key areas.It's about treating people well so that they are motivated and want to do their best."

Martin Kinsella, chief executive of P3, puts its three-star rating down to staff being united in a common purpose. "Our employees all understand what we do, why we do it and what good it does," he says. "The service users always come first.

"I have worked in other charities where people have lost sight of what they are there for."

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