I’ve worked for many years now building up several businesses, and over time you begin to develop certain benchmarks that really demonstrate progress and achievement for you, personally, as a business owner. Of course there are the financial benchmarks and the KPIs and the internal targets. All of those are absolutely essential to grow your business and to enable everyone to know what the company is working towards, whilst feeling individually motivated, challenged and stretched. But there are other less tangible markers that can really make you feel, as a business owner, that you and your team have built something that matters and that makes a difference to your employees’ lives. Not only in terms of what they are paid or other more quantifiable measures, but by creating a place where people actually want to come to work. We had a good week on that score last week. I always get a great buzz walking around Peninsula and it feels to me as though it’s a place people like to work. But we won two major awards that cement that impression and demonstrate that investment in your people and their wellbeing is absolutely essential when building a business. Firstly, we won a place for the third year on the run on the prestigious Sunday Times’ “Best 100 Companies to Work For.” We went up ten places to 27th this year, with the review commenting, “As workplace experts, the firm practises what it preaches.” And, in addition, we were also awarded three star accreditation and an “extraordinary” score from Best Companies, the employee engagement specialists. Their Best Companies’ Survey examines the internal structure, culture and working of the business, from the perspective of the employees. It’s great to have external endorsement that we’re doing well at “employee engagement”, to use the buzzword. As an advisor on employment practices, we should indeed be practising what we preach. But the important point here is that all employers need to focus on employee engagement. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital trends report, 80% of companies cited employee engagement as their top challenge. People are far more mobile and far more connected these days – it doesn’t take much to look elsewhere or find another offer if you’re good at what you do. Retaining your good people is absolutely vital as a business owner and one way to do this is to make them feel engaged; to make the workplace somewhere where they want to spend their days, where they contribute, they know they add value and they have some fun. Since our beginnings in 1983 we’ve always focused on safeguarding the welfare of our employees and providing an environment that encourages development and learning. It’s a huge honour to have that recognized by two prestigious external awards. But equally it’s great to see our staff morale so strong, to have so many great people who have worked for us for many, many years, and to see people working in senior management who, through internal promotion and training, have worked their way up throughout the company. Jack Welch said: “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.” And he knows a thing or two.