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Biography of Jonathan Austin
Founder & Chief Executive, Best Companies Ltd


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Jonathan Austin is the founder and CEO of Best Companies, and the man behind the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For Lists. For the past eighteen years, he has focused his efforts on promoting workplace engagement, working personally at the highest levels of major national and international organisations. Under his direction, Best Companies has surveyed more than four million employees from over five thousand organisations.

Jonathan’s journey started when he attended a Servant Leadership conference in the USA. It was there he first saw the list of Best Companies to Work for in America published by Fortune Magazine. He was so inspired by what the organisations listed were doing for their people and communities that he committed to establishing a list of Best Companies in the UK. With the support of the then Department of Trade and Industry the first list of 50 Best Companies was published in 2001 in The Sunday Times.

Having initially used the US methodology to calculate the list, which had a high degree of subjectivity, Best Companies were keen to establish an academically robust way of measuring workplace engagement. To do this they enlisted the help of academics at the University of Plymouth, and together they created an 8 factor model that quickly became the measure of employee engagement. Each year, the eight factor model is reassessed and retested to ensure it retains its place as the ultimate measure of employee engagement.

From a list of 50 in 2001, they have now established “100 Best” lists for small, mid and not for profit organisations as well as a top 25 list for big companies. In 2006 they also launched their ‘Michelin Style’ Star Accreditation program driven by their Best Companies Index (BCI) score that has become the absolute standard for engagement.

Eamon Fitzgerald, MD of Naked Wines, describes Best Companies as “The number one employee engagement survey” and with loyal clients such as Admiral Insurance, Ernst and Young and Warburtons, Best Companies have established themselves as the most trusted and reliable employee engagement specialists in the UK.

Jonathan is a keen advocate of personal and organisational development and has collaborated with – among others - Anthony Robbins, Patrick Lencioni, and Shawn Achor. He has also served on the National Employment Panel, advising Government on welfare to work policies, and was a member of the Employee Engagement Taskforce.


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