Each year, The Times publishes a list of the Top UK Companies to work for. With the 2017 list due to be released any day now, it is time to review the companies that made it to the top of the list last year and see what themes echoed throughout them all.

We spend on average one third of our lives at work, and that’s the kinder estimate based on a 40 hour week. The truth is many Londoners rack up much higher working hours. Employers that are able to create great ‘culture’ internally, not only retain their staff, but they manage to make this huge proportion of our existence seem less like ‘work’ and more like ‘life’.



”A feeble body weakens the mind.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Whenever I speak to companies about fitness at work, I start by simply reminding them that our job is to make their employees feel more human, so that they really can deliver their best at work. Humans were made to move, and physically challenge themselves. We were not designed to be seated and stagnant for the majority of everyday. It comes as no surprise that 7 of the 10 companies at the top of the list, also ranked in the top ten for employee wellness. When we nourish our bodies, we feel good, and when our employer creates an environment where this is encouraged, there can be no greater feeling of trust and loyalty.

MVF, a marketing agency, provide group personal training sessions each week, including yoga and running club. This leads to an overwhelming 88% of employees describing work as ‘fun’ and their employees are the ‘least exhausted’ of all the groups interviewed for the survey.

Simply Business, the number 1 company on the list, organises an 89-mile bike ride from Northampton to London and an Arctic biathlon each year. It makes sense that if you ask your employees to challenge themselves physically you will simultaneously nurture the minds of your company’s future leaders.



”The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Henry A. Kissinger

 The second theme should come as no great surprise for anybody who has been fortunate enough to work with a management team that inspires. Nine of the top ten companies also ranked in the top ten of the category ‘Leadership’. A great leader has the ability to listen to his employees and gather consensus, rather than leading based on biased assumptions.

The CEO of Skyscanner, which ranks at number 5, attends each employee induction, signalling to new hires, that they are important. Bea Tollman, of Red Carnation Hotels, received a 90% positive score from her employees and is the power behind an empire of 17 hotels. She says her success boils down to believing, and trusting in each of her employees, whom she hires from Springboard, a charity supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds.



“Be the change you want to see in this world.” Gandhi

A final category, which really seems to hit nail on the head when it comes to ranking companies to ‘work for’ is personal growth. This celebrates the companies that are able to view individuals outside of their job titles. Mishcon De Reya, a legal firm, which ranks 7th for personal growth, allows it employees to dedicate up to 50 billable hours annually on pro bono work. Chess, a telecoms reseller, has a partnership with the Princes Trust, so employees can also mentor youngsters.


What changes can your company make today, to become a ‘Top UK Company to Work For’?