The Stockvale Group operates Adventure Island fun park, Sealife Adventure and numerous restaurants along Southend Seafront and the town centre, providing activities and days out for the community both locally and regionally. Each year they provide approximately 1000 jobs meaning they are a vital part of the local economy and the success of the town.
They are a family run business and view their employees as their wider family. They are invested in creating accessible routes to employment and ensuring clear, achievable development programmes are in place to provide the opportunity for every single staff member to build and achieve a career regardless of their educational or social background.
Southend born and bred Executive Chairman Philip Miller MBE did not come from a highly academic background, and has always placed importance in working hard and learning from those around you to progress. Philip says “Our leadership and managerial teams are made up entirely of people who all began as trainees on the ground-level. We have workers that started as park sweepers who are now Team Leaders and Ride Operators who are now Directors.”
Why did you apply for a Queen's Award for Enterprise in Promoting Opportunity?
"Executive Chairman, Philip Miller, was introduced to the awards when attending a presentation for companies that had already won. Past winners were talking about what it had done for their businesses, and how it had provided a real opportunity to achieve recognition for what they were doing. We look at the Queen’s Awards as a Knighthood for business, so to win would have been a great moral boost for everyone that works in our organisation."
Thanks to their transformation programme, developed in-house, they can confidently offer jobs to low skilled or poorly educated candidates in the knowledge that they can teach them the skills and mind-set they need to be a star employee and develop them into leaders of the future.
The transformation programme centres around the Stars League coaching system, which helps Leaders develop staff members day-to-day, and from which new leaders are identified, and put forward to their 12 week ‘Adventure Leadership’ sessions. The system also incentivises them with a bonus pot of over £100k each year. This, along with their clear criteria for promotion to each level, means every single employee, no matter their background or job role, has a clear and supported opportunity to develop a career into a Leader, Manager or Director.
Their workforce are largely young people aged between 16 and 21, and they recognised a distinct need to help with their mental health. They work with local Chaplains who provide round-the-clock support to their workers and are on call for those who need them. This can often lead to a recommendation for counselling which they will then provide indefinitely for any given employee. They are certain that as a result of this they are not just increasing staff morale, but genuinely changing lives.
Their social mobility programme also goes beyond their team members, they are also dedicated to helping the wider community wherever they can and this includes: visiting schools & inviting them to their premises to give talks and educate them on the career options available to them if they do not have or like the option of further education; the creation of a fundraising partnership with schools and charities; and founding the annual ‘Citizens of Southend’ awards whereby the local community are recognised for their charity work.
What has winning the award meant for your business and staff?
James Miller, Operations Director, says “I was not really aware that providing opportunities to succeed was anything particularly to be celebrated. It was only when we were putting the application for the Queen’s Awards together did it become apparent that we do change lives for the better, and is actually something quite special. Offering opportunities for all, such as we do, does not necessarily translate into success, and so the credit to this huge win has to go to every single one of our incredibly hard working and dedicated team. To be recognised by such a prestigious award is a tremendous achievement in the history of our Company.”
Tips for future applicants.
"If I were to offer tips for future applicants, I would ask somebody who does not know the business to explore the company with the Management team. We take for granted what we do, which makes it difficult to think what is it that makes us special. In fact, this experience has helped us learn more about the business and what we must maintain to continue to be a great company to work for."
Read more about their fantastic work here.