Dorset children's hospice Julia's House has been named the number one charity or public sector employer by The Sunday Times in its '100 Best Places to Work in the Public and Charity Sectors' list. This is the first time a hospice has won the award.
The Top 100 is run by Best Companies, in association with The Sunday Times, and is based on direct feedback from staff to independent assessors about what it is like to work for their employer. Among the factors measured are training, management, leadership, staff wellbeing and personal development.
Four other hospices made the Top 100 list: St David's Foundation Hospice Care (9th), Princess Alice Hospice (20th), EACH children’s hospice (49th), and St Nicholas Hospice Care (60th). Indeed charities made up over three quarters of the top 100.
Julia's House, which has 125 staff, had already made it into the top 20 of the Best 100 Small Companies list two years running, before the specific list for the public and charity sectors was introduced.
Chief Executive and former fundraiser Martin Edwards commented: "There is a real risk of burnout among staff who work in stressful situations caring for children who will die young, as well as for our fundraisers who are facing a tough economic climate, so to get such positive feedback like this is a credit to everyone in the charity. It is the result of several years of attention to detail and innovation in workforce engagement that has also seen our staff sickness levels fall and staff turnover halve."
Developments in staff support include a confidential counselling service, regular 'free-speak' focus groups to evaluate how to improve as an employer, and training in emotional intelligence based on research into what constitutes outstanding interpersonal skills.
Edwards told UK Fundraising: "Our engagement scores have gone up (regardless of relative ranking) this year due mainly to staff rating their line managers even higher", which he attributes to the surgery-style discussions with line managers about their development needs.