Wellbeing at the Heart of the Workplace: 5 Best Companies to Work For

This quarter’s theme is wellbeing and happiness in the workplace. The term ‘wellbeing’ encompasses how individuals feel about parts of their lives, including their health, their relationships with others and of course their jobs.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside the workplace, and it is accepted that employers have the potential to influence the wellbeing of their staff. There is no easy solution but where employers are able to raise wellbeing in their workforce, they are also likely to see improvements in workforce performance.

So which businesses are performing the best for employee wellbeing? We looked to The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies for inspiration. Take a look at the top five below:

1. Best Small Company to Work For: Ensoft – Software Developer

Based in Harpenden, Ensoft develops complex software for the internet and large corporate networks. Ensoft realises it’s the simple things that keep staff happy, like making sure each member of staff has two monitors on their desk, modernising their gas boiler and installing a second microwave oven — requests acted on after an employee survey.

The average salary of a software engineer at Ensoft is £65,000 and all but two of the 67 employees earn more than £35,000. Employees are among the least exhausted, don’t feel under too much pressure, and have a good work/life balance.

Giving back is also an important part of the Ensoft culture. The company turned over more than £8.7m in the last financial year, Ensoft sponsors Computing at School, an organisation which promotes education in computer science and gave £50,000 to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley last year.

2. Best Medium-Sized Company to Work For: Simply Business – Online Insurer

Based in Finsbury Square with over 300 staff Simply Business offers tailored insurance to a variety of different customer bases including small businesses, landlords and shops in the UK.

In 2010 Simply Business underwent a huge restructure which affected over 50% of staff. “We changed the culture,” Chief Executive Jason Stockwood says, and put employees at the forefront, turning the cliché phrase about customers coming first on its head. “You can’t force people who hate their environment to do a good job,” he adds. “Customers only come first if our employees are happy and doing a good job.”

Employees say that they would not leave for another job and are inspired by their leader. Perks include a benefits package with private health insurance and life assurance. Trips, nights out and office beers are part of the company’s fabric, as are charity events.drinks

3. Best Big Company to Work For: Inchcape UK – Car Retailer

Inchcape UK is an international car dealer, based in Oxford. It sells and services brands including Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land Rover at more than 100 sites around the UK.

An undeniable benefit of working for Inchcape is the cars. Only so many jobs come with a company car, but everyone can take advantage of promotional discounts on vehicles for themselves, family and friends.

As a big business, it’s certainly a challenge to sustain a culture of wellbeing across over 5,000 of their staff. Employees praise a culture of excellent management, big benefits and a small-team feel. Jobs are good for personal growth and the social and charity events organised for the employees play a key part in maintaining wellbeing and happiness in the workplace.

4. Best Not-for-Profit Organisation: National Trust – Conservation Charity

The National Trust is a name which many Britains know and love. It maintains and manages a portfolio of stately homes, gardens, and historic stretches of countryside and coast. It’s 7,313 employees say they are proud to work for the organisation and believe they can make a valuable contribution to its success.

Each one of its employees receives performance-related pay, and holiday entitlement rises from 25 days to 28 after three years. The organisation spent £250,000 in local thank-you events for all staff, after a strong year. There’s an occupational health and wellness scheme, managers are given training on spotting the signs of stress and helping team members. Employees say their bosses take an active interest in their wellbeing.

national trust

5. Best public sector organisation to work for: The SLH Group – Housing Association

South Liverpool Homes predominantly operates in the Speke and Garston areas of South Liverpool. Managing 3,700 homes in one of the UK’s most deprived areas, with increasingly tight budgets the 97 staff of the SLH Group are some of the happiest in the country.

Employees find their job good for their personal growth and believe they can make a valuable contribution to the group’s success. Many are able to take advantage of the family-friendly hours which enable staff to start and finish work early twice a week so they can collect children from school.

Employees, who get a day off on their birthday, receive an annual £200 wellbeing payment as part of SLH’s Every Person Positive initiative, which can be spent on massages and gym membership.

SLH supports the local food bank and gives employees two paid days a year for charitable activities. Staff  say they have fun with colleagues and wouldn’t leave tomorrow to work anywhere else.

For more on wellbeing and happiness in the workplace, Kent Business School’s Professor Yannis Georgellis’ has some research on well-being in business.

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