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Who are the best companies to work for? Three-day event celebrates stand-out employee engagement in Q4 and 2022

Who are the best companies to work for? Three-day event celebrates stand-out employee engagement in Q4 and 2022.

The best in employee engagement has been celebrated in a three-day event (2-4th November) at Evolution London, bringing together 'Best Companies Live Q4' and 'The Best Companies Awards 2022'.

All aspects of the event were live-streamed and free to access. This included daytime reveals of the Q4 winners, topical panel discussions on the iconic red chairs and the annual awards showcase, attended by thousands.

This year, the awards not only recognised the UK's 100 Best Companies to Work For, but also those organisations that achieved a Best Companies accreditation standard throughout 2022.

In addition, the event marked 12 months of Best Companies' new quarterly league table concept – a move away from the previous annual list. It gives workplaces more chances to shine and better showcase their success. They can survey when best suits them, with four opportunities a year to measure their employee engagement scores and rank regionally, nationally and by sector.

TV presenter Dan Walker ensured proceedings ran smoothly and in style. He hosted the awards ceremonies and led the panel discussions where winners shared insights into their game-changing employee engagement practices and how they're navigating challenging times, such as keeping staff connected in newly hybrid workplaces.

The Best Companies Awards celebrated all the organisations who achieved accreditation status within 2022, while highlighting those receiving special recognition in areas such as leadership and wellbeing. And while more than 1500 guests attended the physical awards in Q4, over 120,000 tuned in to the Best Companies Live platform throughout 2022.

The winners across the four different size categories were Sphere Digital Recruitment (small), Premier Group Recruitment (mid-sized), Hickory's Smokehouse (large) and Willmott Dixon (big).

Sphere Digital Recruitment was crowned UK's Best Small Company 2022, as well as holding on to the accolade for the third consecutive quarter. Head of People, Jamie Fraser, was keen to highlight one of their successes behind the win – a focus on retention from day one:

"It's very much about getting the foundations right. We put a lot into the training and development of new starters. They do in-classroom training and desk coaching, and we also provide every new starter with a mentor. And one of the biggest things for us is talking them through their progression in the business. We have a bespoke career programme, and everyone is mapped onto it when they join, letting them know how they can have a long-term career with us."

Meanwhile, Premier Group Recruitment took the top spot for mid-sized companies for 2022, after topping the list for Q3 and Q4. For CEO Andrew Thorning, it was a moment they weren't going to let pass by:

"We've been on a journey with Best Companies. It's our tenth year, so we were going to make a big deal over it! We had three tables, and 30 staff came along with us, as well as the management team. We ran a ballot to open it up to the business, and we had a real mix of experience with us which was great. Finishing first, it was always going to be a bit noisy!"

Hickory's Smokehouse was named the UK's Best Large Company to Work For after Q3 and Q4 success?? CEO John Welsh, was keen to showcase how they're bucking the trend in hospitality – an industry notorious for its poor work-life balance.

"We introduced the 'red zone' to monitor anybody working over 55 hours. Three to four years ago we had about 200 people working more than that. We've now dropped the benchmark to 45, and last week we had 20 people on that list. When you monitor it, you can manage it. They could have financial stress and other things going on in their personal life. If we can talk about it, there can be routes and solutions to make it better. Ultimately, if staff are happier at work, then our guests are too."

Representing Willmott Dixon, the UK's Best Big Company to Work For, Chief People Officer, Rick Lee, had nothing but praise for employees at every level of the organisation.

"We had a fantastic night. I'm so proud of our people. They're decent, kind and hard-working. And I'm pleased for Rick Willmott (Group CEO who won Best Leader). He never puts himself first. He's always asking: 'How are our people doing? Are we fixing their problems? Are we looking after them?' He's the reason I joined Willmott Dixon almost 16 years ago. I felt I'd be treated like a human being, not a human resource."

Commenting on the day, Best Companies' founder and CEO, Jonathan Austin, said:

"The companies we're celebrating understand that the only route to sustainable success is through putting their people first. They are purpose-led and passionate about what they do.”

“I’m proud that we have been able to give these people a platform such as Best Companies Live to share their stories and inspire others. This is more important than ever for us in achieving our primary purpose of helping make the world a better workplace.”

The quarterly League Tables are based on employees' responses to the B-heard survey, which uses Best Companies' unique 8-Factor methodology. This produces a Best Companies index score which is used to rank positions on the League Tables.

The full lists of winners across all League Tables can be found here

Full recordings of the day can be accessed via

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