A group of colleagues in culinary class
Learning and Development Best Companies Special Award 2021 Logo

Learning &
Development Special Awards

Recognising and showcasing those that have
excelled in the area of Learning and Development

The Best Companies ‘Special Award’ for Learning and Development is given to one organisation in each size category annually to reflect outstanding commitment to the personal goals and ambitions of their people.

We shortlist for the award using the information you provide us about your people and culture in your cultural insights when you undertake a survey. We ask questions relating to the initiatives or policies in place that relate to ‘Learning and Development’, which allows us to identify the efforts being made to enable employees to gain the skills and knowledge they need to grow.

Shortlisted companies’ answers are anonymised and reviewed by an independent judging panel, who select the winning organisation in each category.

Winners are then revealed during an annual ceremony each November, in conjunction with the publication of the final League Table of the Best Companies to Work For each year.

The 2021 Winners

Small Companies
Learning and Development
Special Award Winner
Mid-Sized Companies
Learning and Development
Special Award Winner
Large Companies
Learning and Development
Special Award Winner
Big Companies
Learning and Development
Special Award Winner

The 2021 winners in focus...

The winners of the Special Award for Learning and Development in 2021 were all united in the belief that despite the challenges of the pandemic, employees wanted to continue their own personal growth, with training opportunities and courses giving them a sense of security and satisfaction.

For Oscar, the winner in the small category, a focused communications campaign to understand what people really wanted and needed during the pandemic was key to investing in its employees’ development in the right ways. Internal and external training continued during lockdown and there were several promotions.

Winner in the mid-sized category, plan.com, was ensured the ongoing growth and development of its employees both within the workplace and outside of it with a new initiative known as ‘Play Plan’. The initiative, an online portal based around work, rest and play, features everything from training and development courses through to the option to book massages and holistic treatments, as well as join parties and organised trips.

The winner of the large category, Inspire North, stood out for its ‘Future of Leadership’ programme. Although established pre-pandemic, the initiative was able to successfully function when moved to a digital environment. The programme, an intensive 3–6-month course to develop leadership and management skills, is designed for individuals who want to progress into management and have a passion, commitment and work ethos aligned to the organisation's values

For Openreach, winner in the big category, the continuation of employee training throughout the pandemic was imperative, not least as it took on over thousands of new engineers. The company converted an old workshop into a Covid-safe, state-of-the-art training facility known as ‘Open Street’ – a 770 square metre replica street, built from scratch to recreate the real network in the outside world. The new training environment has been so successful that it spawned the development of several other centres delivering similar facilities across the UK.

Learning and Development Best Companies Special Award 2021 Logo

In good company...

The Learning and Development Special Award has previously been awarded (2019) to tech and engineering recruitment firm, Roc Search, for its commitment to establishing multiple career training prog ‘Reverse rammes for employees at all levels – from new recruits through to managers and the leadership team. It also stood out for incorporating outside of work targets into its goal setting and review process – helping staff reach their personal and professional goals.

In 2020, Skipton Building Society was recognised for the bite-sized learning sessions it runs for all colleagues – covering everything from coaching to Vietnamese cooking lessons. Other initiatives, such as a Mentoring Scheme’ allow more junior staff members to share skills in areas such digital/technology with senior leaders. Employees are also given the opportunity to train in areas such as mental health and spotting signs of domestic abuse to support both customers and colleagues.

Benefits of a Special Award...

Being awarded the Special Award for Learning and Development shows that you not only care about your employees, but also their personal growth and career progress.

How employees feel about training and their future prospects is one of the eight key factors of engagement – meaning that going the extra mile in this area can have a positive impact on job satisfaction, retention numbers and overall performance.

It’s a unique opportunity to gain recognition as a responsible employer, as well as an accolade that can help you stand out against the competition.

As a winner in your size category, you’ll receive marketing and publicity from Best Companies, as well as the opportunity to discuss your achievement during one of our live events.

The Importance of Personal Growth

The winners of the 2021 Learning and Development Special Award were invited to discuss the initiatives that earned them the accolade during the first ever edition of Best Companies Live. Click to watch the video of the highlights:

Recent Winners

Some recent Special Award winners include...

Do you have what it takes to become a 2022 Special Award winner?

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Other special awards

Want to find out more about our other Special Awards, the winners and what goes into winning them...