Focus: People Management - Sector scores well in top employers list

Six charities have been named in the 100 Best Companies to Work For, writes Graham Willgoss.

Seven charities have been included in lists published by The Sunday Times of the best employers in Britain.

Six feature in the main survey of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in the UK. They are the Sandwell Community Caring Trust (2), St Ann's Hospice (9), the National Childminding Association (24), the RSPB (37), Brunelcare (50) and Dyslexia Action (89).

Leonard Cheshire ranked 18th in a separate list of the 20 best big companies.

Bryan Dutton, director general at Leonard Cheshire, said the survey proved that charities can compete on equal terms with commercial organisations in attracting and retaining employees.

"The best in the voluntary sector is as good as the best in the private sector," he said. "We can't offer the same high wages, but we can offer a greater sense of fulfilment. If you've got a happy workforce, you can compete."

Leonard Cheshire employees receive more than 50 days' training in their first three years, and new starters profit from a six-month induction and a 12-month mentoring scheme. This is followed by a personal development plan and quarterly reviews. In the Sunday Times table, its 74 per cent score for training is bettered by only four other companies.

As well as securing second place in the main category, the Sandwell Community Caring Trust, which provides care and support for disabled and elderly people in the West Midlands boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, also won the 'best for work and home balance' award.

Eighty-five per cent of its workforce are women, so it makes strong allowances for employees' family commitments. It offers working patterns and hours to suit their lifestyles, as well as flexible working options such as job sharing, home working, reduced hours and flexitime.

"If we want our workforce to treat the people we care for with dignity and respect and develop their skills, we have to treat them in the same way," said Geoff Walker, chief executive at the trust.

Employees responding to the survey completed 70 statements in which they were asked to score on a seven-point scale, from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7).

The statements were grouped around similar themes and covered how employees feel about the way they are managed, senior management, their wellbeing, colleagues, pay and benefits, personal growth, the company itself and its social responsibility.

A total of 39 organisations completed the survey for the top 20 big companies, with 226 vying for a place on the main list.

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