By James Stagg, Deputy Editor, The Caterer

Do you really know what makes your employees tick? It may seem like a simple question, but how often do you stop to consider what really matters to your people?

With the background of Brexit, finding and keeping the best people has never been more critical. And understanding what drives them is the only way to make sure they’re motivated and happy.

Competition for staff remains fierce, particularly with confusion over the long term rights of EU workers. For hospitality operators, building employer reputation is arguably more important than ever. It will only be those who excel in employee engagement that are able to attract and retain the best talent.

That’s where the Best Places to Work in Hospitality awards come in. The initiative, run by The Caterer in partnership with employee engagement experts Purple Cubed, dispels the myth that hospitality is all about low wages, low skills and no prospects. These awards celebrate all that’s best about working in this vibrant sector.

Last year 30 operators were celebrated for their enlightened employment approach. They included a varied mix of restaurants, foodservice firms and hotels, all of whom were rated highly by their employees.

Four of our top 30 went forward to be shortlisted for the Best Employer Catey. On the night Valor Hospitality scooped the award having dramatically increased people engagement, happiness and productivity throughout a previously under invested estate. The business saw EBITDA increase by 20%, sales were up by 10% and they were able to secure an additional £40 million in funding due to greater confidence in the brand. Getting the people stuff right isn’t just ethical; it ensures you sustain your business for longer.

We’re now looking for the 30 best employers across the UK’s hotel, restaurant, foodservice, pub and bar operators for the 2017 awards. Like last year, one of these employers will scoop the Best Employer Catey.

To help us to identify hospitality’s best employers, we’ll ask the people who know best – your employees. Our unique online survey, created by Purple Cubed, asks industry professionals to tell us what qualities and characteristics make a great place to work, and then to grade their employer against them. And what’s more it’s simple to complete, with the confidential surveys taking just seven minutes to fill in on a mobile or desktop device.

The results of these questionnaires are used to compile the list of the best employers in hospitality. Every company that enters receives a full and comprehensive report of their company’s findings, meaning that even if you don’t quite make the cut for the Top 30 you’ll have invaluable feedback to inform your people approach throughout 2017.

So if you’re an operator looking to prove your credentials as an employer of choice, and benchmark yourselves against your competitive set, these awards are for you. But hurry, the deadline for entries is 3 February 2017.

Do you insist on impeccable employment practices in your business? Are you proud of the way you train, value, motivate, develop, reward and retain your staff? If so, we want to hear from you: why not attract greater recognition for your achievements by entering Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2017?