Five travel companies can claim to be among the best employers in the country after gaining accreditation under a Michelin-style star rating scheme that judges levels of satisfaction among employees.

Audley Travel, The Albatross Travel Group and Flight Centre received a two-star rating under the Best Companies scheme. Bales Worldwide and Explore Worldwide received one star each.

Happy employees - the Best Companies scheme offers a way for top employers to get accreditation

The rating is based on employees’ responses to 16 key questions which measure how engaged they feel at work. It covers areas such as the quality of the leadership, how staff feel about their boss, their stress levels, the balance between work and home life, whether they feel valued and how much they think the company gives back to society.

To be accredited, an average of 85% of employees must feel engaged with the company. To gain the full three stars, 90% must feel engaged. Only 42 companies achieved three stars this year, 107 got two stars and 124 received one-star status which, according to Best Companies, is still considered ‘first class’.

Companies have to pay to enter the scheme at an average cost of £500 a year. Despite the fact that only 653 organisations applied and were surveyed this year – a tiny fraction of the total number of UK businesses – founder and chief executive Jonathan Austin said those that were successful could still claim to be among the best employers in the country.

“We have been doing this research for nearly 10 years and those companies that apply are those that already believe they have high levels of employee engagement,” he said.

The scheme has surveyed over 400,000 staff since its launch in 2000 to develop what it claims to be a ‘rigorous methodology to measure levels of workplace engagement’.

Austin admitted that the travel industry had a low representation in the scheme. Only a handful of travel businesses were among this year’s applicants. “We would like to see more involvement from the travel sector,” he said.

“There is a war for talent and this scheme gives companies an independent view on how engaged people are within their organisation and accreditation is a huge endorsement of them as employers.”

Best Companies scheme case studies