WM People launches 2022 best practice awards

WM People, workingwise.co.uk’s umbrella group, has launched its 2022 Top Employer Awards, including an award for Best for Older Workers.

Older women talking to colleagues


WM People is launching the 12th Top Employer Awards to celebrate best practice in flexible employment and support for those with caring responsibilities as we emerge from the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

This is the first year the Awards will come under the WM People banner, bringing together the workingmums.co.uk, workingdads.co.uk and workingwise.co.uk sites.

There is a particular emphasis on post-Covid recovery, for instance, career progression for women after a pandemic which has seen women taking on the lion’s share of caring responsibilities. In the flexible working category we are looking not just for examples of emerging best practice in hybrid working, but also to see that employers have not forgotten other forms of flexible working

Mental health is also a key issue as the lingering effects of lockdowns take their toll on people’s long-term health. Diversity & Inclusion has been high on the agenda this year following the Black Lives Matter movement and the award aims to see how employers have capitalised on that to ensure equal access and opportunities in their organisations.

Another award is for Best for Older Workers. Older workers have been hard hit by Covid, with unemployment levels amongst the over 50s reaching 426,000 in the final three months of 2020 (up 48% year on year) and 284,685 redundancies amongst the over 50s in 2020 (up 79% year on year). 

Here is the full list of categories:

Best for Mental Health – sponsored by Kearney – for employers who demonstrate strong initiatives aimed at protecting their employees’ mental health.

Best for Diversity & Inclusion – for employers who can demonstrate how their actions ensure equality of opportunity for all

Best for Older Workers – for employers who recognise the needs of older workers and ensure that they feel equally valued and supported

Best for Flexible Working – for employers who can demonstrate how they promote and manage flexible workers and encourage a flexible culture in their organisation from day one.

Best for Returners Award – for employers with stand-out programmes or initiatives aimed at returners – those who have taken a career break and are looking to get back into the workplace.

Best for Career Progression for Women – for employers who demonstrate initiatives aimed at developing women’s leadership potential, including women’s networks, mentoring initiatives, outreach, training and return to work programmes.

Best for Family Support – for employers who can demonstrate how they support parents and carers and embrace different forms of family set-up.

SME Award – for employers who can demonstrate a real commitment to work life balance practices. This award is split into two by company size.

An Overall Top Employer Award will be chosen from the winners of the other categories.

The closing date for entries is 20th October. More details can be found here.

The launch comes as our sister site workingmums.co.uk publishes its Best Practice Report, based on findings from the winners of the 2021 Top Employer Awards. They cover a range of sectors, from teaching, hospitality and finance to technology and gaming, and some of the biggest challenges that employers have faced during the pandemic, from wellbeing to employee engagement and diversity and inclusion.

The introduction to the report covers the main events of 2020 and early 2021 as well as the work of workingdads.co.uk and its fellow WM People sites, workingmums.co.uk and workingwise.co.uk, over the year.

That includes roundtables, Facebook Lives, reports and surveys. The Best Practice Report provides concrete examples of how employers have sought to address some of these challenges and have adapted to the different phases of the pandemic.

Employers featured in the Best Practice Report

McDonald’s – which won Overall Top Employer and Best for Mental Health for the broad and inclusive range of support it offered in such a very challenging environment for retail and the way the company went out of its way to support staff and franchisees and to make sure they felt safe.

IBM UK which won the Best for Diversity & Inclusion Award and outlines its wide-ranging focus on diversity and inclusion, including hidden disabilities and neurodiversity, the way it monitored progress and how the company recognised the importance of the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter with its comprehensive training and support on both topics provided with the IBM Emb(race) pledge.

PwC which won the Best for Flexible Working Award and speaks about how it introduced a time off for dependents time code to recognise that parents in particular were balancing other issues during lockdown, about its innovative Virtual Park to support remote onboarding and its ongoing commitment to flexibility.

Teach First which won the Best for Family Support Award and talks about its open embrace of a diverse range of families and its wide range of policies to support them, from premature birth policies and paid carers’ leave to compassionate leave policies and a fully flexible approach.

Sky Betting & Gaming which won the Best for Employee Engagement Award and outlines its positive, holistic and proactive approach to employee engagement, based on its three pillars of physical and mental well being and good vibes based on positive, interactive engagement.

And UBS, which won the Best for Line Manager Support Award and talks about the range of support it offers for line managers across mental well being, flexible working and diversity and inclusion and why this is crucial to setting the culture of the organisation.

The Best Practice Report is sponsored by construction firm Morgan Sindall Infrastructure. HR Director Katie Smith said: “It’s been a tough year, but in the face of adversity, there have been some remarkable success stories that we are excited to celebrate. I have no doubt that mental wellbeing, employee engagement and inclusion and diversity will continue to be a key focus for many organisations, whatever this coming year holds.  This best practice report highlights some fantastic case studies that we can all benefit from and use in our workplaces to support our colleagues and organisations to continue to succeed.”

Gillian Nissim, founder of WM People, the umbrella group for workingmums.co.uk, workingdads.co.uk and workingwise.co.uk, said: ”The Best Practice Report traces developments over this last hugely difficult year. We hope it will promote discussion, inspire other employers and provide ideas about how to make more adaptable, flexible and resilient organisations that can withstand the kind of disruption that we are likely to face for some time to come.”

*The 2021 Best Practice Report can be accessed free here

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