Focus: People Management - Workplace satisfaction - Research group rates charities highly

Graham Willgoss,

Accreditation scheme finds sector performs well in areas such as flexibility.

Twelve charities have been named in the first national workplace accreditation scheme that rates employee satisfaction and engagement.

Best Companies, the organisation that researches and compiles the annual Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, has created a Michelin Star-style rating system to recognise employee engagement: one star is 'first class', two stars are 'outstanding' and three stars are 'extraordinary'.

The National Childminding Association, Sandwell Community Caring Trust, St Ann's Hospice and social inclusion charity P3 are among the organisations to have been awarded three stars. The RSPB, Brunelcare, Encams and Norcare have two-star ratings, and Broadway, Dyslexia Action, Leonard Cheshire and the Treloar Trust are among those to be credited with one star. In total, 256 organisations have received accreditation.

"The problem for the voluntary sector is that there is a perception that charities are not particularly well run, and that's simply not the case," said Jonathan Austin, chief executive of Best Companies. "We want to dispel the myth and show that charities, which are often run as efficiently as big businesses, offer some real opportunities."

Best Companies asks employees to rate their organisation in a range of areas, such as how they feel about the way they are managed, their wellbeing, pay and benefits, personal growth and their organisation's social responsibility. Employers have to average above 7.3 out of 10 to achieve a three-star accreditation.

"Having the accreditation encourages potential employees," said Paula Breen, director of business management at Norcare. "Since we've been listed as a two-star company, we've had people contacting us directly. We haven't even got a recruitment campaign.

"It shows that we are an organisation that does invest in our employees in more ways than just salary - we do actually talk to them about what is going on."

Charities score highly in areas such as having a positive team environment and being flexible, according to Austin. But he added that there is still work to do. "The voluntary sector often lets itself down in the area of leadership and the quality of management," he said. "But the people on our list are well managed and compare favourably with the private sector."

Accredited organisations will appear in Best Companies' Best Red Book, which will be published annually.

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