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Pizza Friday, ‘Skint Thursday’ drinks and subsidised ski holidays: These are the best places to work

Table football, pizza Fridays and "skint night" cheap drinks in the office are among the perks offered by the top companies to work for in the UK

From subsidised ski trips to table tennis tournaments – and even lessons in making artisan bread – the top companies to work for in the UK know how to treat their staff.

Every year, the publication of The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list draws many envious glances from workers all over the country as they learn what goes on behind the walls of businesses they may not have associated with fun in the office.

In the big companies category, the latest list includes professional services firms EY and Deloitte, telecoms company Vodafone and motor insurance business Admiral Group – which tops the list.

Organised parties, personal development programmes and flexible working are some of the perks offered by the top companies that separate them from the rest.

Outside of the 25 big employees are a number of mid-sized companies that are highlighted for their friendly and comfortable working environments.

In order to feature on the list, organisations must employ between 250 and 3,000 full-time employees. Here are the ten best.

 

Connect Catering

Catering service provider Connect Catering comes out top of the list thanks to the efforts the company has made to ensure fairness and equality.

The company has 476 staff based across 71 sites in the UK and offers each person a training course in the latest culinary trends such as sushi making and artisanal baking.

Staff reported that managers were supportive and regularly praised them for their work, while a “workplace worries policy” lets employees confidentially contact their seniors if they have any complaints.

 

Churchill Retirement Living

Top places to work in the UK
The company celebrates its 100th development (Credit: Churchill Retirement Living)

Churchill Retirement Living is a family-run company specialising in developing one and two-bed accommodation for the over-65s.

Employing 364 people, the company offers staff bonuses based on the profit of the company, as well as regular social activities such as “pizza Fridays” and table tennis tournaments.

For the 25th anniversary of the business, Churchill Retirement Living is throwing a “family fun day” to bring colleagues together.

 

LifeSearch

Life insurance business LifeSearch states its five company values are care, tolerance, honesty, excellence and openness.

Employees get a range of perks including gym membership, health insurance and profit-related pay, while 28% of staff take home at least £35,000 a year.

The positive working environment is reflected in the low staff turnover, which sits at 20%.

 

Willmott Dixon

Top companies to work for in the UK
Willmott Dixon’s Cardiff Bay offices (Credit Willmott Dixon)

Willmott Dixon, a construction company headquartered in Hertfordshire but with offices across the UK, has family values at the heart of the business.

CEO Rick Willmott is the fifth generation of the Willmott family to lead the business.

It offers staff a lengthy maternity leave, as well as family-friendly contracts for those with children that fit around school hours.

Almost three-quarters of staff earn an annual salary in excess of £35,000 and turnover remains low at 7%.

Almost all the Willmot Dixon employees (98%) agreed they were encouraged to partake in charitable activities and the company offers a green bonus scheme for the use of electric cars, as well as incentives for those who cycle to work.

 

The New World Trading Co

Formed in 2011, The New World Trading Co is a food and drink retailer, which includes restaurant and bar brands such as The Smugglers Cove and The Botanist.

As part of a staff engagement initiative the company launched Tribes – an app which gives out daily challenges and prize giveaways.

Participating in fundraising activities, random acts of kindness and taking a certain amount of steps on shift all contribute to employee points totalling up on the app.

Members of the tribe with the most points at the end of the year are rewarded with an extra two days holiday allowance, while individuals with the most points could win a trip abroad.

 

The Landmark London

Top companies to work for in the UK
The Landmark London Hotel winter garden (Credit: The Landmark London)

It’s not just guests of The Landmark London that are offered the five-star treatment.

Employees at the Marylebone-based retreat have access to gym and sports facilities, and get a celebratory afternoon tea for their birthday.

Free training courses and support classes are also offered to members of staff.

 

UKFast

Cloud services provider UKFast is the only tech or software company to feature in the top ten.

The company is aiming to help make Manchester the number one tech city in the UK and has partnered with The Dean Trust, which manages 12 schools and academies in the area, to create a high school focused on digital literacy and a partnership with Manchester High School for Girls to address the gender imbalance in the tech industry.

State-of-the-art training facilities, labs and an auditorium have helped to make UKFast employees some of the best qualified in the country in terms and are literate in a variety of computer programmes.

 

Karmarama

London-based creative agency Karmarama makes it into the top ten companies to work for in the UK for its team-building and community spirit.

An annual skiing holiday is subsidised by the company for all employees, while monthly “skint nights” on the Thursday before payday are held in the office bar, which offers cheap drinks.

Top companies to work for in the UK
Karmarama offers a subsidised skiing holiday to all employees (Credit: Flickr)

Mindfulness sessions and morning meditations are part of Karmarama’s efforts to improve staff wellness while junior members of the team are encouraged to sit on a shadow board which can suggest changes to the business.

 

People’s Postcode Lottery

The People’s Postcode Lottery offers one of the best working environments for staff in the UK.

The company office features table tennis, pool and table football facilities, as well as a wellness room for employees in need of a quiet space away from their desks.

In addition to the 32% of lottery ticket sales that goes to charitable causes, the company holds an annual “Dragon’s Glen”, which invites staff to pitch inventive ways to raise money for the children’s charity Children 1st.

 

Beaverbrooks

Family-owned jewellery company Beaverbrooks rounds out the top ten.

Founded in 1919, the company’s 900 staff each receive £100 to donate to a charity of their team’s choosing.

A “Beaverbrooks Way” was put up in each of the jeweller’s 71 stores listing the core value of the business.

Staff are also personally congratulated by the chairman when they get a promotion.