David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment, on how the Best Companies to Work for get involved in their communities.

At Business Environment, we were very happy to be named one of the country’s ‘100 Best Small Companies to Work’ by the Sunday Times for the fifth consecutive year.

The rankings, which are compiled via a rigorous employee survey, were particularly pleasing for us because we were one of only nine companies on the list to have featured every year since 2008.

So, we’re clearly delighted that our employees have consistently recognised our efforts to create a good working environment. However, this isn’t what I want to focus on in this article, although you can’t blame me for bringing it up!

Instead, what I think is worthy of further examination is the methodology used by the Sunday Times to determine whether a company deserves a place in the list.

The survey measures employee satisfaction across eight key measures, including some areas you might expect, such as work-life balance and pay and benefits.

No one would dispute that people prefer working for companies that pay well and offer a generous holiday allowance, but the Sunday Times rankings recognise that these are just some of the conditions that must be fulfilled in order to offer employees a great working environment.

Aspects of working life that play a key role in ensuring employees are proud of the companies they work for are also factored into the list.

For instance, employees are asked whether profit is the only thing driving the business, whether the company makes it easy to be eco-friendly and whether the company is committed to supporting charities or good causes.

Those are questions that give a sense of a company’s ethos and whether it strives to be a responsible corporate citizen — which determines whether an employee is proud of the organisation they work for and their motivation during the working day.

We’re very aware of this at Business Environment — in terms of making it easier to be green, we received a top five score, with 89 per cent of our employees acknowledging the excellent work carried out by our ‘green team’ to make it easier to recycle.

Our support for Rays of Sunshine, a charity granting wishes for seriously ill children, led to 92 per cent of employees commending our charitable initiatives.

We also offer all employees three days’ paid leave each year, on top of their usual holiday allowance, so that they can support a good cause, which we also sponsor if possible. We’re proud that staff members that might have otherwise struggled to find the time are now making a positive difference in their communities with our full support.

Of course, working to improve your local community is simply the right thing to do. For businesses, it really is a win-win, creating a working environment that ensures they can attract and retain the best staff, who arrive at work motivated and proud of the company they work for.

It makes sense that the Best Companies to Work For often do the best work.

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