Top 20 companies who championed HR Innovation in 2017

Where were the best places to work this year (in no particular order)?


  1. 4Com

The Telecommunications company, based in Christchurch, topped the Times top 100 best companies in 2017. Staff incentives are numerous, including rewards for innovation, low emission company cars, breakfast bar and salad lunches and flexible working. 4Com also try and give back to the community through the 4Com Foundation, which supports local charities such as Amelia’s Rainbow.


  1. Bromford

Currently at number 3 in the Glassdoor best places to work list, the Wolverhampton based housing group’s score is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer range of different roles involved in the business. They offer a wide range of benefits, which is useful for such a diverse workforce. They also offer flexible working hours, and work from home options in case of emergency or illness. Employees are especially happy with the work-life balance they experience.


  1. Chess

This IT and comms service provider also did well in the Times List, primarily because of CEO Stephen Pollock’s happiness drive. Employees are offered free breakfasts, massages, dental and optical plans, as well as medical insurance. They also offer financial backing for anyone wishing to give up smoking, and will match up to £100 on any money raised by charitable pursuits of workers. Pollock’s healthy body, healthy mind ethos is clearly having a positive impact.


  1. John Lewis Partnership

A truly pioneering business, and one that has been on lists like this for many years, JLP topped Linkedin’s Top Companies in 2017. As well as their long-running partnership scheme, where all the employees own a stake in the company, the JLP incentives include access to holiday centres, golf clubs, sailing clubs and other activities around the UK, as well as exclusive suites at venues such as London’s O2 Arena.


  1. Explore Learning

This tutoring service is popular amongst its employees, who enjoy the “positive work environment, friendly and supportive team and management, excellent feedback and strong training.” Benefits for full time employees include a strong pension, generous bonus scheme and award-winning training and development. Part-time workers are offered flexible schedules, strong support and performance related pay reviews.


  1. BrewDog

The Scottish brewers have won several awards for HR innovation this year, mainly thanks to their Unicorn Fund. The fund is split evenly between all full-time staff (with pro-rata amounts for part-timers) and is made up of 10% of Brew Dog’s profits. They also have a ‘Crew Treats’ online platform offering discounts, help-to-buy on tech and help for health and dental care. They even have a program called ‘pawternity leave’ which allows staff to take a week of paid leave if they get a new dog or puppy.


  1. New World Trading Company

NWTC operates 15 pubs and restaurants, and made it in to the Top 10 of the Times list thanks to the fun and relaxed atmosphere and heavy investment in their staff. NWTC invested more than £1,000 a head in staff training in 2017, and classes staff can take as part of their self improvement vary from job-specific courses such as wine tasting to less relevant ones like music classes. There is also a sense of competitive fun, as the staff are separated into 6 ‘tribes’ in order to compete for holidays and other rewards.


  1. Google

Google topped the Glassdoor top places to work 2017 in the UK, surprisingly for the first time. Google’s comfy sofas, multiple restaurants and chill out areas are legendary, but it is not just the quirky workplace that keeps employees happy. Free food and gym, heavy investment in training, flexible working hours, strong pension scheme, full medical and dental insurance and good childcare are also on offer. However, it is the nurturing nature Google treats its employees that make it most desirable.


  1. Whitbread

One of the larger companies on this list, with close to 50,000 employees, Whitbread, who own Premier Inn and Costa Coffee among others, is rated highly by its employees, with 73% saying they enjoyed their shifts. It is in staff’s ability to climb the ladder with the company where Whitbread excel. Their Pay for Progression scheme encourages employees to earn as they learn. Benefits also include private healthcare, share options and profit-related pay.


  1. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s beat all the other supermarkets on to Linkedin’s Top Companies 2017 list. This is due to the company’s embracing of the digital sector, with one in twelve employees now working in that department, including retraining some whose jobs have become obsolete. Sainsbury’s have also trained 33,000 people in its food colleges since 2010. They offer store discount, a strong pension scheme and considerable pay for unsociable hours as well. Sainsbury’s also have a high staff retention rate, with 1 in 6 employees having worked there for 15 years or more.


  1. Anglian Water

Staff have described Anglian Water as an “Inspiring place to work” due to the water supplier investing heavily in training and development of their staff. They have also been praised for offering a good work/life balance for employees due to flexible hours and options to work from home. Other benefits include a good benefits scheme and private healthcare. It is the staff development side of things that are it’s strongest incentive for employees.


  1. SLH Group

The SLH Group, a housing association managing 3,700 homes in South Liverpool, topped the Best Non-Profits on the Times list for the 4th year in a row. Job satisfaction is very high, considering the important work they do for their community, but they also get a lot of support with training, development and career progression. There is also a new ‘lounge’ in the office featuring many leisure activities, and a £200 fund is given to each employee that can be spent on the likes of gym membership or even sky-diving. It is the important work SLH do as a group, though, that motivates the employees the most.


  1. Lookers Group

6th in Glassdoor’s list, the long-running automotive repair and marketplace is incredibly popular with it’s employees due to its “excellent leadership and in-house training.” Perks for employees include generous holiday pay and industry leading maternity leave, as well as thousands of discounts and aid for healthcare. They are a firm believer in equal opportunity, and their development of staff is one of the strongest in the automotive sector.


  1. EE

EE were the only telecommunications company in the Top 30 Big Companies on the Times list. Their philanthropic endeavours are the main reason, as they help employees give back to the community. This includes holding ‘techy tea parties’ that help pensioners become tech savvy, matching 25% of funding for charitable acts and encouraging sustainability and environmental consciousness. Perks also include 75% off phone plans and great family and friend discounts. EE also rates very highly in employee support.


  1. Co-op

A company that came within a whisker of collapsing back in 2013, Co-op has roared back to make the Linkedin list. Following 2013, Co-op invite all its employees to join the discussion about the company’s corporate culture, ethos and ethics. They were also given a new Co-op membership card, which offered lots of discounts, as well as a good pension, up to 31 days leave and fantastic sick pay. Co-op also put a lot of effort into charitable work, with their employees helping to raise £4.5 million to tackle loneliness last year.


  1. UKFast

Having added 80+ employees in the last year, UKFast entered the Mid-sized section of the Times list, and it’s easy to see how they attract so many talented professionals. Their onsite campus includes a gym, a crèche, classrooms, a Japanese spa garden and sleeping pods. Employees are treated to ski-trips to Verbier, trips to Las Vegas and music festivals. Staff development is also key to UKFast’s success, offering courses for all employees to help them reach their goals.


  1. Royal London

The life insurance and pensions company found itself on Glassdoor’s Top Places to Work list this year due to its “Fully Supportive CEO & Exec Team, encouraging innovation and flexible working”. The flexi-time element of the company is a big hit with its employees, who enjoy a great work-life balance. Other benefits include a top holiday and pension scheme, High Street discounts and private healthcare for senior members.


  1. Iceland

Iceland, who were the highest-ranking supermarket on the Times list, has created a high level of staff engagement. Despite not having the best year financially, Iceland gave their staff a raise, and increased from minimum wage for new starters. They also got their staff to help them design new uniforms and offered lots of in-store incentives and competitions. On top of this, employees are also offered great staff discounts, and the company developed a £2m kitchen in their head office to encourage employees to be involved in product development.


  1. Northern Gas & Power

The energy company topped the Business Insider list for the best workplace culture. There is no ceiling to the employee bonus and performance incentive, so employees can make life changing sums of money, yet the basic wage is also competitive, so workers are never struggling. They also offer childcare, healthcare and a child allowance. This has led NGaP to attain a whopping 4.8 Glassdoor score.


  1. Facebook

Last but not least, tech giant Facebook were 4th in the Glassdoor list. They offer a trove of benefits for new employees and interns, including accommodation, transport allowance, catered meals, gym membership and flexible working hours. For the more senior members the benefits include food, equipment, wfh options, dental, health insurance, competitive holiday allowance, dry cleaning, free transport and several other nice things.



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