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Leisure and hospitality firms join list of UK’s top employers

Milton-Keynes based Bridge Leisure Parks, which owns and runs holiday parks across the UK, claimed 82nd place in The Sunday Times’ annual Best Companies To Work For survey.  

It has been joined by Oakman Inns, which runs the Betsy Wynne at Swanbourne near Winslow, the Navigation Inn at Cosgrove and the White Hart at Ampthill.

Also on the list is Peach Pubs, which operates The Swan at Salford , the Embankment in Bedford and the Black Horse in Woburn, and Wyboston Lakes training and conference centre near Bedford.

Bridge Leisure, which employs 20 people at its Milton Keynes central office and around 350 people at its holiday parks, was praised by staff who said that they had fun with colleagues (84%), are not bored at work (76%) and they wouldn’t leave tomorrow if they had another job (74%).

The Sunday Times praised Bridge Leisure for giving all team members 27 days holiday and encouraging flexible working.

The company was also congratulated for its rewards and recognition scheme that sees managers hand out lottery-style scratch cards for outstanding work and customer service, with prizes including paid time off and cash rewards. 

Chief executive Andrew Howe said: "As a holiday business our number one aim is to ensure guests have a good time when they stay at our holiday parks. Finding innovative ways of keeping our team happy and motivated is key to this. 

"We were delighted to make the top 100 at the first time of entering the awards. Our challenge now is to make sure we stay there."

The list also recognised the staff policies and HR record of Oakman Inns, which was ranked eighth in the top 100 list and also won the Best Improver Award in the mid-sized category with their new overall Top 10 placement.

Peter Borg-Neal, Oakman Inns’ chief executive, said: “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.”

Key commendations that contributed to their high ranking included the company’s Oakmanology training scheme, an online software system specifically designed for and by Oakman’s HR department.

Head of HR Jill Scatchard said: “We started work on it almost four years ago, and since we released it just over a year ago, our staff have overwhelmingly claimed it to be of great personal benefit.

Oakmanology involves everyone and its skill development modules are taken by everyone from the main board down.”

Peach Pubs is included in the list at 45. Partner Ben Paul (pictured) said: "When we started Peach 15 years ago we set out to open one, really great pub. Now, to be recognised as one of the best companies to work for in the whole of the UK is a dream come true.”

Peach now runs a total of 18 pubs and employs 450 staff. Mr Paul said: "Although we have won many awards from within the hospitality world for looking after our people and giving them inspirational training and development opportunities, getting recognition this time from outside our industry is even more meaningful.

“It is tough for a hospitality company where the hours are long and the work is hard to be recognised as a great employer. 

"It is a challenge for pubs, too. The great British pub industry will only be saved if we carry on making our pubs fun, exciting places to come to and for our people to work in.”

Wyboston Lakes has reached the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to work for’ List for the fourth consecutive year, this time in 28th position.

The 380-acre resort is home to two conference venues, 4 star hotel, spa, and golf course and employ nearly 300 people in a variety of roles both customer facing and office based.

Founded in 1983 by Peter Hutchinson, the family-owned business invests in not only the facilities and the rooms but also the people, something which people and culture director Chelsey Hutchinson feels very strongly about.

“It is not just the facilities that are important, it is also the guest experience and this comes from the genuine hospitality and customer service we delight our guests with.

“It is vitally important to us to help our employees grow and develop their skills so that we can offer the best service possible. Our development programme has been a great success and has seen many people flourish and meet their career goals.”

Wyboston Lakes has been awarded the three-star accreditation status meaning that the venue is considered an ‘Extraordinary’ employer in terms of the way it engages with its staff.

Managing director Mark Jones said: “It is vitally important for us to know that we have a happy and engaged team as our employees are the most valuable asset we have.”