Customer Insight

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Goodwood: An English Estate Like No Other

By Rachel Allen, Client Manager, TLF Research

Based on a recommendation, Goodwood approached TLF in 2019 to talk to us about conducting an employee survey. It was, of course, fabulous to be recommended. We are always delighted when our clients spread the word.

It was clear that Goodwood had a definite and clear vision of what they were looking for and how the results would be used to drive change. However, within that framework they were very open to new ideas. TLF knew it was important to understand exactly what Goodwood needed and Goodwood were keen to ensure TLF could deliver.

We were both aware that for an employee survey to be successful it has to be trusted both by those who are expected to take part and those who are going to plan and implement change based on the findings. After discussions, we agreed to conduct our first survey together.

Demonstrating that success is ‘driven from the top’, in this interview, we find out more from Chris and David who were very actively involved from day one in ensuring the survey was a success; from planning an enthusiastic and effective warm up campaign to secure buy-in and drive response, to sharing the results with divisions, departments and managers.

Goodwood’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Woodgate, started his career in Corporate Finance, working for several of the biggest consulting firms including KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Chris was approached by Goodwood in 2010 and offered the role as Group Head of Finance. Over the past decade Chris has risen through the ranks, becoming CEO just over a year ago.

Chris, please tell us about Goodwood for anyone who isn’t familiar…

Goodwood is a quintessentially English estate, set in 12,000 acres in West Sussex, which has been in The Duke of Richmond’s family for more than 300 years. The family has always shared their sporting passions with the public. Rooted in our heritage, we deliver extraordinary and engaging experiences in modern and authentic ways. Our flagship events include the Festival of Speed, Qatar Goodwood Festival and the Goodwood Revival.

But what really sets us apart is our people. It is their passion, enthusiasm and belief in the many things we do that makes Goodwood such a unique place.

We have a diverse portfolio of more than 20 different businesses including our organic farm, hotel, forestry, The Kennels – an exclusive members’ clubhouse, a private consultancy arm, and a luxury 10-bedroom sporting retreat. Next year we are launching an all new dog event celebrating everything we love about our canine friends called Goodwoof.

Tell us about the Goodwood philosophy and how this extends to employees…

Goodwood remains the home of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and their family,who live in the Grade 1 listed Goodwood House, a building characterised by its four distinctive copper domes. The family are hugely passionate about the estate and ensuring it is maintained and enhanced; they are very much the custodians of Goodwood.

Our vision is to create a truly sustainable estate which is able to look after itself and one in which the natural capital of the estate is enhanced. We are seeking to do this through managing a healthy group of businesses that are based around the family's sporting passion and work sympathetically with the estate.

Our aspiration is to become ‘The Home of Exceptional Experiences’. There are now 750 people employed across the estate. We champion creative, collaborative, determined and passionate people who are team players with a ‘derring do’ attitude to create the best possible experiences for our customers. People with these attributes always succeed here and Goodwood is such a fun place to work.

David Macey is Goodwood’s Talent Acquisition Manager.

David, you’re reasonably new to Goodwood. What attracted you? What did you want to bring to your position? What were your first impressions?

I joined Goodwood three years ago and the time has gone really fast, because there are always so many amazing things happening here and no two days are the same. My first impression of Goodwood was just how warm and welcoming everyone was and how as a diverse estate we work collaboratively to get the job done. I love the creativity here and I am part of the People and Development team where we attract, recruit, develop and nurture the talented teams who make up Goodwood.

One of our main focus areas is to build our employer brand, sharing what it is like to work on the Goodwood Estate so we can really illustrate the joy of working for Goodwood and therefore helping to attract the next generation of our people.

How do you recruit and train managers and employees? What do you look for?

We first have good conversations internally before going out to market, so we are very clear about what specific skills and behaviours we are looking to attract. Our Goodwood values are the foundation of our strategy and purpose, which are:-

  • The Real Thing - Authenticity
  • Derring-Do – The Wow
  • Obsession for Perfection – Quality
  • Sheer Love of Life – Infectious Enthusiasm

We are an innovative, design-led business and our managers are crucial, they need to inspire their teams through living the values, encouraging creativity and making life at Goodwood fun! Development scored highly in the importance scale in last year’s TLF survey and our Learning & Development Advisor, Chloe, has developed an invigorating suite of sessions, which is available to all staff.

Chris, you recently conducted an employee survey with TLF. What did you want to find out? What did you want to use the results for?

Goodwood is a customer focused business and our people are crucial to what we deliver.

We wanted to conduct a comprehensive employee satisfaction survey so that we could understand our people, see if they understood our strategy, had what they needed to succeed in their role, and if they were happy. We wanted to find out what we can improve on, and the results gave us a good view of what we need to do to improve things.

What have you learnt from the survey… What has it confirmed [things you already knew or suspected]? What have you learnt that is new or surprising?

We were very fortunate – we had an excellent response rate with over 600 people (83%) completing the survey. We found that we have an incredibly engaged workforce, with over 80% of our people being classed as engaged. Overall our employee Net Promoter Score was 37.8% and we found that our employees were really satisfied with working at Goodwood.

One of the things that surprised us was that we were clearly not communicating internal opportunities well: we had over 80 internal moves in 2019 but there appeared to be limited awareness of such opportunities. However, on a more positive note, TLF created a brilliant word cloud page to show what four words our employees would use to describe Goodwood as a place to work. The four words most commonly used were….. “fun”, “unique”, “exciting” and “friendly”. This was good to hear.

You’ve done surveys before, successfully, how does the latest survey dovetail with what you already know? What is Goodwood’s history when it comes to measuring employee satisfaction?

We had run surveys with another provider for three years previously before we turned to TLF after a recommendation. We liked TLF’s ability to tailor questions, the depth of their analysis and the personal commitment and interest in Goodwood that Rachel, who subsequently managed our relationship and survey, had shown. The survey that we undertook with TLF is different to other surveys and so not directly comparable. However, going forward we have decided to include benchmarking questions in all our surveys so that we have a clear view on employee engagement.

Any good surprises from the results?

Yes, the top five areas of importance for our employees included: ‘working to deliver a level of quality that exceeds customer expectations’, ‘working hard to increase customer satisfaction’, and ‘going beyond what is expected to help make Goodwood successful’. These are all incredibly reassuring in a customer-focused business. In addition, the other areas of importance were: ‘[our employees’] ideas are listened to and valued’, ‘[our employees’] roles make good use of their skills’, and ‘knowledge and abilities’.

It was really positive to hear that our employees gave the highest satisfaction score to ‘working hard to increase customer satisfaction’ followed by ‘able to see the link between their work and Goodwood’s business objectives’.

Any challenges or conundrums from the results?

A number of employees wanted Goodwood to improve communication and engagement between departments; have better staff facilities – i.e. break-out rooms; and increase support for progression and development; along with developing our staff ‘Wellbeing Programme’. We have created an internal application portal for jobs and an internal talent pool.

One of the themes that employees felt most strongly about in the engagement survey was that we needed to improve our internal communication. As a result we held detailed, follow-up focus groups. We listened and are now investing in an employee internal communication platform called My Goodwood. We are transforming areas across the estate into break-out rooms to meet the need for better staff facilities. Finally, we have extensively refurbished one of the old architecturally significant buildings of the estate to create a beautiful smart modern office space.

How do you share your results?

TLF was really helpful and great at presenting the key findings to our Directors and then it was communicated to employees at one of our estate-wide ‘State of the Nation’ meetings. After the ‘State of the Nation’ meeting we spoke directly to people in smaller groups. We also followed up by sending out a communication with the key findings to all employees.

What are you stopping, starting and continuing to do based on the results?

This year we have a plan to focus on our ‘Wellbeing Programme’ as the previous topic in the 2019 employee satisfaction survey was our ‘State of the Nation’ meeting.

We have used the results to develop an internal talent pool (an internal job application portal). We are also supporting the need for staff development and learning by introducing new internal courses. Importantly, we spent a lot of time launching our new vision to all of our people: following the survey we were clear that we wanted everyone to have a good understanding of our plan for the estate.

Any top tips for other organisations about to embark on an employee survey? You’re just about to run your second survey; is there anything you are doing differently this time round?

Be clear about what you want to achieve at the outset. Take time to design the questions and work with TLF who can use their expertise to help guide your approach.

We were really pleased with how the survey went and the help provided by TLF. The only things we are doing differently this year is to make some tweaks to the questions in our survey and focus on a new topic, which is our ‘Wellbeing Programme’.

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