Lets' face it, most of us would rather be anywhere else than at work.

That’s why every good employer recognises the importance of keeping staff as happy and engaged as possible.

The issue is about much more than just money. After all, some of the highest paid jobs are also the most stressful.

In fact, being a good employer can just be about making sure staff are given as much opportunity to broaden their ambitions as possible.

That’s certainly the case at Brighton-based IT firm FDM Group, which took home the Best Employer trophy at last year’s Sussex Business Awards.

Judges were impressed by a heartfelt application from Nabila Salem, who joined the company as a marketing assistant in 2007 and is now in charge of a team of three.

She said: “I think the application caught the eye because it was something I definitely believed in.

“You don’t get pigeon-holed here and there are lots of opportunities to move around. There have been a few people who started on reception and are now managers.”

FDM’s success at keeping staff happy is borne out by the fact that more than 30% have remained at the company for five years or more while 20% have lasted longer than a decade.

Helping people enjoy a healthy work-life balance is also a good way to forge loyalty.

It's especially important for Rosie Freshwater, managing director of Brighton-based digital marketing agency Leapfrogg, which won Best Employer in 2008. As well as operating a robust flexible working and workfrom- home policy, the company allows team members “thinking time” to encourage creativity.

It has also implemented a bonus scheme that rewards staff on communication and team work rather than just performance.

All this has led to impressive growth in a tough market, with Leapfrogg opening its second office in Southampton last year.

Ms Freshwater said: “It’s not always money that people want. More often than not they want a happy and stressfree work environment, recognition and value from others and a good worklife balance.

“These are harder things to address and implement but will produce the happiest work force.”

“Working staff to the bone and having long office hours might create a short-term larger profit margin but will also result in lowmotivation, burn out and lack of development and happiness of staff, which in turn means a high staff turnover and low quality of work.

“Looking after your staff is an investment for the future bottom line of the business.”


The Best Employer trophy is one of 14 up for grabs at this year’s Sussex Business Awards. Judges are looking for applications to include clear, detailed answers to the following: ● What do your employees genuinely feel about the leaders within the organisation? What lines of communication are there between the leaders and the rest of the staff, and to what extent are these effective?

● What does you organisation do to make sure you employ the right people, and how good are you at retaining staff?

● What do you do to make sure you are getting the most out of your people? What have you done to go the extra mile for your staff?

● Do your staff feel they are managed effectively so as to allow them to reach their full potential? Do staff feel adequately rewarded? What efforts are made to make sure that your reward structure is in line with your competitors, and are these efforts effective?

● What is done to guard against excessive stress and pressure being placed upon staff? How is a successful work/life balance achieved?

Companies have until August 27 to apply and finalists will be invited to a ceremony at The Grand, Brighton, on December 2. Visit www.sbawards.org.uk to enter.