What does it take to be one of the best employers in the charity sector? Creating an environment in which staff feel valued and their wellbeing is taken seriously matters a lot, according to Third Sector’s inaugural Best Charities to Work For list.
The research, compiled before the coronavirus hit, shows that many organisations highly rated by staff encourage activities to create strong teams and foster good personal relationships. That can include social events such as pub quizzes, music in the office and the occasional free food.
Employers that made the list also scored highly on leadership and strategic planning, with an impressive 95 per cent of staff agreeing that they had confidence in their organisation’s leadership. An even higher 97 per cent said they understood the organisation’s long-term strategy, compared with just 79 per cent of staff in charities that entered but did not make the list.
All this matches general research into what contributes to a good place to work, says Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the HR membership body the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. He identifies the meaningfulness of work, good managers, good work-life balance and whether you have a degree of control over the work you are doing as key factors. “Relationships at work are generally very important,” he says.
The basics of pay and conditions also matter. Eighty-one per cent of staff who work at charities that made this year’s list said they were satisfied with the organisations' benefits schemes, compared with just 62 per cent of staff in charities that did not make the cut this year.
Common among the top-performing charities was finding ways to support staff to advance their careers by offering mentorship or job shadowing opportunities.
Our study suggests that it tends to be easier to create a happy work culture if you’re a small or medium-sized organisation. Only one of the 15 organisations that make the inaugural list employs more than 100 employees, with the majority employing fewer than 50 people.
First place this year goes to Thirtyone:eight, a Christian charity based in Swanley, Kent, which helps to protect vulnerable people from abuse. Steve Ball, chief executive at the charity, says that key to its success has been creating a culture of care and compassion for all. He likens the charity to an extended family. “We genuinely care for each other and look after each other,” says Ball.
Third Sector’s Best Charities to Work For identifies and recognises employers in the sector that have created outstanding workplaces. The initiative is a joint effort by Third Sector and the Best Companies Group, an independent workplace excellence research firm that managed the registration process, conducted the two-part survey process, evaluated the data and, ultimately, selected the employers that were good enough to make the list.
The programme was open to all UK-registered charities with more than 15 employees.
Part one of the assessment (a quarter of each organisation’s score) consisted of the BCG Employer Questionnaire, which was used to collect information about each employer’s benefits, policies, practices and other general information.
Part two of the assessment (three-quarters of each organisation’s score) involved the confidential Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Survey, which was used to evaluate the employees’ workplace experience and culture.
The combined data allowed the experts at BCG to conduct an in-depth analysis of the strengths and challenges that exist in each organisation. BCG’s workplace assessment experts determined which organisations were good enough to make the list.
The survey process and evaluation was free, but participating organisations have the option to purchase the BCG Employee Feedback Report, which summarises the employee data collected through the survey process. In addition to the employee opinion data, the report also includes transcribed employee written comments, as well as benchmarking data from the winning and non-winning organisations. This report aims to help each company understand their workforce better and equip them with the information to make improvements.
For more information, email Katrina Heimbach at KHeimbach@BestCompaniesGroup.com.