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What makes a ‘Best Company’?

31st March, 2015 No Comments

Kevin Horne

For the last few years Nwes has been recognised as a Sunday Times Top 100 company to work for (17th this year). To qualify, staff rank the firm on a variety of factors – none of which includes profit or turnover. On looking at the list however it is clear that being a great place to work is synonymous with trading success. In contrast, I was at an angel investors meeting recently and talking to some of the potential funders all that they seemed interested in was profit. Fair enough but not one of them looked happy and seemed amazed when I said that I was looking for something which would be ‘fun’.

There seems to be a real disconnect between the worlds of finance and that of real business. Money is just a way of keeping score – it is not the rationale for anyone that I know who has actually set up in business. Peoples motivations are varied but riches are way down the list of priorities. So when looking at what makes a great business why do so many people concentrate on short term profit and less on a more widespread assessment of company value?

My mantra has always been that it is incumbent on me and my team to make working for Nwes a great experience. In turn that creates loyalty and a greater commitment to the company – which results in better financial returns. A simple calculation but one lost on many large companies where the leaders are corporate climbers who have never been near a start up business or created anything themselves using their own ‘sweat equity’. We are not perfect but our staff have voted us in at number 17 in the country! I would love to see every FTSE250 company commit to entering the Sunday Times Best Companies every year – it would be very interesting to see where they end up. Perhaps executives bonuses could in part be tied to their ranking – it may make some people take a long term view rather than the short term bonus filled culture which has resulted in so many scandals recently.

For the last 18 months we have been working with Virgin. Whilst I cannot comment on where they would sit in a Best Companies ranking it is clear that Sir Richard Branson is both very successful and associated with fun at work. How many other bosses can you name who have a similar reputation?

So for me a ‘Best Company’ is many things:

– Fair to its staff

– Open and transparent

– A good communicator

– Sustainable

– Makes a positive contribution to society

– A fun place to work

…. profitability is merely a part of sustainability.

Written by Kevin Horne, CEO of Nwes


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