Virginia Matthews finds out what it takes to be a Best Place to Work.
"I did an assessment centre dressed as Dracula once and another time, I was put in stocks and pelted by the staff all afternoon. I can't quite remember what it was all about now, but the team certainly seemed to enjoy it."
For Richard Thorne, group HR manager at insurance firm Admiral, it's the firm's so-called 'Ministry of Fun' initiative – where each department in turn organises the celebration of an event in the calendar in the wackiest way possible – that helps make each one of the company's 2,500 employees feel a little bit special.
"Every day is dress down, nobody sits behind a closed door and the CEO meets all new starters," he says.
"We positively encourage people to be themselves at work rather than conform to a corporate norm, and if that means they are naturally spectators rather than extroverts, we respect their individuality and don't expect them to lead the proceedings or even get dressed up.
"Although we aren't either the best or worst payers in the business, spending time making our staff happy means they will spend time making our customers happy, and that's got to make for a great place to work as well as being sound business sense," Thorne adds.
But is a great place to work about more than having a laugh with like-minded colleagues, being on first-name terms with the CEO, or having a boss who doesn't mind making a fool of him or herself?
Yes, says Richard Banks, deputy director of HR at Broadway Homelessness and Support, who argues that it's "working with committed, capable and intelligent people you can bounce ideas off that keeps you motivated and creates a fantastic place to work."
A feeling of belonging
Banks believes that while smaller organisations such as Broadway tend to be more successful at instinctively creating a feeling of belonging, the strength and intimacy of work relationships may be offset by hazy career paths.
"Career progression tends to be less clear-cut in a small place and there may simply not be the job opening that you are looking for when you feel you most need it and that can lead to intense frustration," he says.
"But although we don't target talent in the way that a City bank might, we do deliberately offer a bank of junior management positions that allow the brightest and most capable people in the organisation to develop th