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Microsoft have been named the best large employer in Europe, in an annual index compiled by the Great Places to Work Institute.It is the third consecutive year that the technology giant has come out on top in the list, which honours companies that make significant investment in training, the working environment, benefits and recognition. More than 1,300 companies in 17 European countries participated in the year’s evaluation process.Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, put the firm’s success down to the positive influence of technology on the workplace.“Investing in people and creating a work environment that utilises the latest technology has enabled staff to transform the way they work and interact with colleagues, delivering a strong work-life balance and a highly motivated and empowered team,” said Courtois. “This past year has been challenging for businesses and employees in all industries, and Microsoft is no different. That said, we continue to be optimistic especially as our industry transitions toward what we believe is the next big era in technology – cloud computing.” Palle Ellemann Knudsen, managing director for Great Place to Work Institute Europe, added: “There is no doubt that today technology is a hugely important enabler for establishing a great place to work. At Microsoft the use of their own technology is opening up more flexible work schemes and new ways of collaboration. Things that open up new opportunities are highly appreciated by employees.”Surrey-based management consultancy Baringa Partners was the surprise winner of the best workplace award for the UK. The firm was ranked 11th in the Europe-wide SME category.