Northstar Wins Best Place to Work Award

December 17, 2020

Jack Miles
Senior Research Director

Market Research Society Awards Northstar Research Live Best Place to Work

Next year, Northstar marks its 20th anniversary. For the past nine years, it has entered the prestigious MRS (Market Research Society) 2020 Awards in a number of categories as part of its commitment to highlighting its commitment to driving innovation in research.

At the virtual awards ceremony on 7 December, it was announced that Northstar had won the Research Live Best Place to Work award.

The Evidence

As part of its commitment to employee satisfaction, Northstar conducted an employee survey. The recent survey found that Northstar had a 90% staff satisfaction rating, and a 91% retention rate in the year leading up to July 2020. Translated, this equals to an average 7.2 years of employee tenure, with 13 years for management.

The company felt that these figures were rightly something to be proud of and wanted to let the research world know a little bit more about how it achieved that success.

Training and Development

Training and development are a positive way for companies to demonstrate to their employees that they are invested in them.

Northstar has increased its staff development budget to invest in external training for its teams. Training is offered in a wide range of areas including pitching to clients, publishing, infographics, behavioural science and digital management.

However, Northstar didn’t stop there. Company resources, (time and money), were also directed towards a number of development and staff engagement activities. These include putting on lunchtime speaker sessions for staff.

The company also created Northstar Fest. This is a day-long experience in which the company presented its work, innovations and future plans to colleagues. They also threw in some data science skills training based on a syllabus designed in-house.

Supporting Staff Through Technology

Northstar recognised that it also needs to support its staff technically. This includes the automation of quantitative research processes, giving employees more time to focus on higher-value work.

The company already has some pre-existing technical support in place. This includes cloud-based remote working. This was particularly important in 2020, when employees were better able to make the transition to home-working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff Wellbeing

While Northstar recognised that training and development, as well as technical support are essential for teams to function happily and productively, it also acknowledges the importance of staff wellbeing.

The focus on creating a psychologically safe working environment at Northstar means that the company has trained its managers in mental health training. This is provided by mental health charity Mind. Staff also have access to professional counsellors should they need additional support.

Recognising Staff Achievement

In the aforementioned staff survey, staff were asked if their managers acknowledged their work. An impressive 100% of participants stated that ‘managers recognise when I do good work.’

Northstar has promoted 44% of eligible staff. To empower its teams and foster a sense of engagement, employees who specialise in design or analytics have worked with their managers to co-create and write their job descriptions.

To motivate employees to learn and progress, those with less than five years’ industry experience are given the opportunity to pitch, moderate and run workshops for clients. They have also been involved in the development of an app created to address cyberbullying.

Matthew Sell, Northstar’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “This is one of the most prestigious and competitive categories available and our success here means so much to everyone who works for the firm.

“You might expect me to say that this is a victory for a culture that values people, not just profit, and one that recognises that the most effective businesses rely on contributions from motivated and committed colleagues whatever their experience – and it is.

“However, in addition, it’s validation for a strategy that gives junior researchers the time, space and opportunity to develop their skills and experiment with new ideas, techniques and tools which help shape the future of insight.”

Opinium was highly commended for Research Live Best Place to Work.

The full list of MRS Awards winners and finalists can be found here.

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