Three-way race for top employer crown

SOCIAL landlord and developer the Luminus Group is the long-term sponsor of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Employer of the Year, for which this year s shortlist pits the district s only national sporting venue against last year s overall Business of the Y

SOCIAL landlord and developer the Luminus Group is the long-term sponsor of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Employer of the Year, for which this year's shortlist pits the district's only national sporting venue against last year's overall Business of the Year and a high-tech network services provider.

The judges are looking for evidence of staff motivation and satisfaction, effective communication, good working conditions and staff benefits, including flexibility of work arrangements. They have also been probing staff training and development and arrangements to secure a good work-life balance for employees.

Huntingdon Racecourse, at Brampton, has been hosting sporting events for almost four centuries.

Its normal staff cadre of 18 swells to more than 50 for National Hunt race meetings, but it is also expanding as an exhibition, conference and corporate meeting venue when bloodstock is out of sight.

This year it has added an Investors in People award to its third consecutive accolade as best small racecourse in the Midlands and East Anglia.

Full-time employees have weekly briefings to ensure they are kept fully aware of developments, and they are joined by part-time race-day staff in the circulation of written briefings.

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They have been fully involved in the design and development of new office accommodation at the venue, which is due to open next month.

The company prides itself on staff training and development, and includes a variety of employee benefits, including gym membership, free racing at Jockey Club courses, reduced-price healthcare cover and some flexible working arrangements.

Rapidly-expanding St Ives-based property specialists Movewithus moved themselves earlier this year, into new premises for the current 200 employees, expected to rise to 300.

The company won the 2006 Business Development Award and went on to take the coveted Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year Award, the winner of which is chosen from the corporate category winners.

With so many people joining the company, the motivation provided by regular team meetings is crucial to keeping a clear focus on taking the company forward.

Staff describe the team ethos as "exceptional", rewarded by the company with staff parties round the year, including a 10th birthday celebration earlier in 2007. Employees are also rewarded for introducing family and friends to the firm's products.

Movewithus used its intranet site as an on-line notice-board, and has introduced a monthly staff forum to ensure each component of the group can discuss issues and provide feedback to the board.

The company holds charity fund-raising events, and its car-sharing scheme has been so successful that it is short-listed for the Sustainable Development Award.

In Papworth Everard, 200 people work for Teligence, a privately-owned company founded in 1991 to provide professional network services to the communication sectors.

In 2000, the company was sold to a multinational telecoms group having grown its turnover to over £26.5million. In 2004 the original founders bought back the business, re-branding it Teligence.

In common with movewithus, Teligence sees the value of promoting its own employees to senior positions, and it rewards individual success with meals out for employees and their families.

The company also funds popular team social events, and acts on feedback from twice-yearly staff satisfaction surveys.

In additional to regular updates of its internet site and intranet, the firm provides every employee with a summary of the monthly management meeting, and managers have regular informal meetings with the teams.

Employee benefits include life assurance, enhance annual leave provision and private healthcare, and technical infrastructure is designed to support a policy of encouraging people to work from home.

Teligence says training and development are key factors in its continued success, but it does not encourage a long-hours culture.

Employees are encouraged to take all leave owed to them, including time off in lieu, and not to work extended hours.

The company also gives them two clear weeks off at Christmas by closing the business and has a policy of finishing early on the days before a Bank Holiday.