Read about the winner and runners up for this year’s Good Employer Guide Award
Winner: Assael Architecture
Assael Architecture has a strong pedigree as a good employer. As well as working to improve mental wellbeing among its own staff, the practice has taken up the mantle across the sector with industry initiative the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum. An impressive flexible working policy, an office designed around wellbeing and a focus on physical health enhance the employee experience, while long-serving staff receive 24 weeks of full maternity pay and six weeks of fully paid leave for new fathers.
The consultant stands out for the positive way it has included staff throughout the process of its management buyout. At a time when employees can feel shut out, the firm circulated regular reports, ran meetings, and co-ordinated a shadow board of employees and the company intranet. The impact is exemplified by a staff member who said: “Openness has made me feel valued and allowed me to grow in my knowledge of the organisation and how I can contribute.”
Consultant Alinea has worked to promote a culture of innovation. Ideas-sharing has yielded many successful suggestions and empowered workers to have a greater say. The Alinea Forum – networking and knowledge-sharing events for young professionals – shows the firm’s commitment to helping the whole industry benefit from innovation. Staff also receive a generous 30 days of holiday, 80 hours of training, enhanced pension provision and sabbaticals.
As part of Berkeley Group the UK’s largest housebuilder, Berkeley Homes has created REACH, an industry-leading programme to offer apprenticeships across 14 disciplines, which receives around £1m of annual investment. Especially impressive is the firm’s work with the CITB and Building Crafts College in Stratford to set up a fitted interiors course. The company is also raising awareness of construction careers by working with a huge range of organisations and charities.
Contractor Graham has become an industry leader in wellbeing with the CONNECT personal development programme, in which it has invested £3.3m over a three-year period. While it was developed in collaboration with experts, it has been rolled out at a measured pace to allow continuous employee feedback. Among other benefits, Graham’s staff are entitled to sabbaticals, private healthcare and enhanced parental leave.
The practice has an exceptional approach to flexible working and parental policies. A standout element is the option of a nine-day fortnight, which has proved extremely popular, but the company runs a range of measures designed to fit in with workers’ lives, meaning that valued members of staff stay when they might otherwise have left and a wider pool of potential workers is available. The firm also offers 70 hours training per person each year and all staff have the chance to work abroad.
Engineering-focused NG Bailey was shortlisted for its wholehearted introduction of the LEAP training programme for managing people, which has improved the lives of managers and their staff alike. The firm showed its commitment to staff development by spending £250,000 on creating training and lined up a further £500,000 to continue with the programme, the influence of which works long after the two-day training course, with the help of a handy app.
Rider Levett Bucknall
The consultant’s Global Experience Exchange Programme is not a traditional education course, but rather the chance for some of its workers from 120 offices across the world to jet to offices in other countries and exchange examples of best practice, sharing knowledge with their colleagues upon their return. The scheme is an attractive lure for new entrants as well as appealing to existing staff and is a good example of international colleagues forging closer ties.
Structural steel firm Severfield has been shortlisted for setting a great example in the way that it has taken control of its recruitment. The company overcame the difficulty of attracting new staff to its rural head office in Dalton, North Yorkshire, by taking the bold step of hiring workers with no previous experience and training them on a fast-track programme. Local people have switched careers into jobs that provide them with greater opportunity. In addition, the number of female employees at the firm has increased by 300%.
Housebuilder Telford Homes was shortlisted for its initiative in working hard to tackle the sector-wide problem of an ageing workforce. Its Careers Under Construction project gives entrants the opportunity to gain a degree-level qualification and is flexible about academic entry requirements – there is also no upper age limit for participants and they receive one-to-one support from skilled mentors.
Big names take top titles at the 2018 Building Awards
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Building Awards 2018: Good Employer Guide Award