Employees at SAS Institute and Schoenen Torfs crown their companies with the title "Best Employer Belgium 2012"

With the title ‘Best Employer Belgium 2012’, SAS Institute and Schoenen Torfsremain an example of a people-oriented and qualitative personnel policy. Last year Schoenen Torfs was also number 1 in the category for companies with more than 500 employees. SAS Institute hits the top spot this year; in 2010 the company was second place in the category of companies with fewer than 500 employees.

This large-scale survey among employees is carried out every year by the People & Organisation Competence Centre at Vlerick Business School. The initiative is run together with the Great Place to Work Institute Europe, which aims to define a professional and European standard for a quality personnel policy.

Prof Dirk Buyens, head of the People & Organisation Competence Centre at Vlerick Business School, confirms the value of the survey: "The most striking finding is that the results for the companies on the Top 20 list continue to rise two years in a row (2011 and 2012). In this way, the employees are signalling that their 'trust in management' is back to the level it was before the financial crisis of 2008. For a number of companies, their employees’ trust in management is even higher than it has ever been. We do not find this same trend for organisations that are not on the list – for those companies, we find that 'trust in management' has not yet been restored since 2008. So, on average, the companies that are not on the list score 10% lower on each of the criteria in comparison with those that are on the list. Treating people in a consistent and sustainable manner certainly appears to yield fruit. Not only does that lead to greater overall employee satisfaction in the company, but in addition these employees also show a greater degree of pride in the company and they experience a larger degree of camaraderie. Finally, this leads to greater trust in 'the boss' – a necessary condition for motivating people."

Onto the winners: what are their strengths? 

The fortunate employees have SAS Insitute to thank for the clear vision and continuous efforts being made in the various HRM sub-domains: the employees are, and will always be, the most important capital in SAS Institute. This is expressed in a large number of well-developed initiatives that reflect the creative culture in SAS: the roll-out of an original employer branding campaign, developed by and for SAS employees; the knowledge-sharing among colleagues via the ‘know more’ lunches; the bubble sessions to celebrate successes, both large and small; and many others.

Employees at Schoenen Torfs are proud to work for this organisation. Schoenen Torfs’ HR strategy uses the tradition of a family-run company where people look after each other as its starting point, but translates this into the modern view of life and work. The DNA of this family business is essential and, via a number of initiatives, is guarded carefully in the various HR domains. The idea of partnership, where employee and employer represent real, mutual added value, is and remains essential. 

Overview of the Top 10

Ranking Organisation < 500 employees Ranking Organisation > 500 employees
1 SAS Institute 1 Schoenen Torfs
2 Microsoft 2 Accent Jobs
3 AE 3 Care
4 Mars Belgium 4 McDonald's Belgium
5 Ormit 5 Randstad Group Belgium
6 Handson & Partners 6 Genzyme
7 Bank j. Van Breda & C° 7 FedEx Express
8 Boss Paints 8 KBC Groep
9 Abbott 9 Accenture
10 Grünenthal 10 Partena Ziekenfonds & Partners

Special Awards 

Besides ranking the Top 10 Companies < 500 employees and the Top 10 Companies > 500 employees Vlerick Business School also honours three outstanding companies for Inspiring LeadershipThanking andWork-Life Balance.


The theme running through the motivation of people in this organisation is trust and autonomy. Management shows great confidence in their employees’ knowledge and capabilities. In addition, via leadership programmes like ‘Expedition competence’ and ‘Managing others’, managers are encouraged to let go and to coach instead of directing authoritatively. This provides the staff with an executive role model that is very accessible, involved and inspiring.

WINNER THANKING – Bank j. Van Breda & C° 

Thanking people for professionalism and commitment is 1 of the 3 main pillars in this financial services firm’s ‘Good to Great’ strategy. Managers are encouraged to catch their people doing something good and then to give them a pat on the back for it. The difference lies not so much in the reward that is given but rather in the fact that thanking is inherent in the organisation’s culture, as demonstrated by all of the co-workers.


At Microsoft, work-life balance is a total concept, with emphasis on several key principles. Flexible working patterns, devoting attention either to work or private life at the right moment, and choice in working location and hours are an integral part of the Microsoft culture. Moreover, the aspiration to develop throughout life and the celebration of each new day are in the DNA of every employee.


 The methodology is based on the definition of Best Employer as being a place where employees trust their managers, take pride in their achievements and have fun in their work environment. The survey consists of 2 parts. Firstly, a management/HR survey identifies the personnel policy of the organisation (Culture Audit©), which accounts for 1/3 of the total score. Secondly, a survey among the employees determines their experiences and concerns (Trust Index©). The employees’ experiences take precedence, with the employee survey accounting for 2/3 of the organisation’s final score. All European Member States were invited to take part in the survey at the same time. Any organisation (profit, non-profit, governmental) with more than 50 employees was eligible to take part.

A European study
 The Best Employer is a large-scale study within the EU for employers who make their personnel policy central to their corporate policy. The Best Belgian Employers are automatically eligible for a place on the European list, which will be presented mid June in Munich. Within the Member States 1,000 companies are striving for one of the awards.

About the Great Place to Work® Institute
 The Great Place to Work Institute has more than twenty years’ global experience in defining the Best Employers and Companies. The methodology managed by Great Place to Work is based on the Great Place to Work® Model©, which consists of the following aspects: ‘trust between the employer and employee (credibility, respect and justice)’, ‘the importance of having pride in your work, team and organisation’ and ‘loyalty and camaraderie in the workplace.’

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