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Recruitment & retention toolkit – case study

Sea Life Centre, Loch Lomond

To create a pipeline of talent, the Sealife Centre focus on training and development and actively promote moving between different departments so staff can gain more experience and skills. All employees have a personal development plan and regular one-to-ones with their line manager so to map out their career journey and the next steps to take to achieve their goals. Our pay is above national minimum wage and do not operate any form of age tiering.

The management team at Sea Life Loch Lomond devised a ‘step into programme’ for those people that are not quite ready to take the step up into a management position. The training programme is a 12-month supported training plan with each months aims, objectives and activities laid out. Each month a one-to-one check in takes place whereby the employee lists out what has been achieved and what the focus will be, and any support required for the following month.

Their 2022 staff survey achieved a score of 85% for ‘access to learning and development’ and 85% for ‘management have a genuine interest in my career aspirations’. For learning and development overall, we achieved a score of 81% which is +15% compared to the entertainment and recreation external benchmark score.

The Sea Life Centre have also supported employability opportunities through signing up to the ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ programme in partnership with West College Scotland who in turn have partnered us up with the Dumbarton Academy and Kilpatrick Assisted Special Needs (ASN) School. They also participated in ‘Scottish Apprenticeship Week’ with visiting school students seeing different career options and promoting the range of jobs the tourism sector offers. Work experience opportunities to young people have been delivered working with local partnered schools and they have supported 2 ASN students on a long-term work experience programme, providing the students with the confidence and experience and helping them improve their communication and customer service skills within an operating business.

Additionally, the Sea Life Centre have participated in careers fairs at West College Scotland, with interactive activities to engage young people and to promote future careers at Sea Life and the wider Merlin attractions.

The Sea Life Centre offer employees from all backgrounds the opportunity have equal opportunities to succeed and scored 96% for ‘I can be my authentic self at work’ from their staff survey. Within their team, staff have very different needs and abilities, and workload is adapted accordingly. An example of this is a team member that has Type 1 Diabetes for whom we adjust their break pattern to ensure that they can manage their blood sugar levels. We also have a staff member that is autistic, we allow them to wear ear defenders and allow additional breaks if overwhelmed.

We are extremely supportive of our diverse team and celebrate individuals and their cultures. We have a diversity and inclusion calendar and hold events to celebrate World Autism Day, International Transgender Awareness Day, Mental health Week, Glasgow Pride and Show Racism the Red Card.  All staff have pronoun name badges, and we are encouraging and supportive of our team members who identify as non-binary and others who are currently transitioning.  All employees receive thorough training on how to welcome all customers which includes, diversity and inclusion, disability, and confidence training and how best to assist customers with autism or other sensory requirements.

In recognition of the steps outlined above, the Sealife Centre were awarded the Thistle Scotland national award for Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year 2023.

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