Bluestone: The Importance of Fair Work - Business in the Community

Bluestone: The Importance of Fair Work

How Bluestone implements Fair Work practices.

Bluestone National Park Resort is a premier holiday destination near Narbeth in Pembrokeshire that started life as a farm diversification project; the once dairy farm which spanned across 500 acres is now where the resort and its more than 800 luxury lodges, cottages and apartments sit around a private village. The then farm owner, William McNamara, is the founder of Bluestone and the Chief Executive of the business.

People Services Director, Stuart Davies-Jaynes, has been with Bluestone for over three years and has seen first-hand the business’ core values of people, planet, product and profit align with the Welsh Government’s Fair Work Agenda.

The Importance of Fair Work

Fair Work practices ensure that employees are fairly rewarded, heard and represented, secure in their role and are able to progress in a healthy, inclusive working environment where rights are respected. With over 900 employees, Bluestone is the second largest employer in Pembrokeshire, and so the employee experience is critical. Stuart acknowledges that recruitment over the last decade has changed: “Employees are looking for a flexible working environment and considering an organisation’s core values as part of their selection process, which means we have to get ahead of what people are looking for to make sure we are attractive to candidates as well as doing the right thing for our people.”

How Bluestone Implements Fair Work Practices

Listening to the employee voice is an essential part of being a Fair Work employer. Bluestone’s most impactful employee voice tool is the internal Employee Consultation Group (ECG) which consists of employees nominated by each department. Stuart explains: “The group is all about collaborative working and unlocking communication pathways across all levels within the organisation.”

Employees are also celebrated annually at the ACE Awards. Organised by the ECG team, they are used to celebrate employees who have gone above and beyond their regular duties in a way that really encapsulates the Bluestone values.

Whilst Bluestone is family run, employees participate in a share incentive programme which they enjoy as part of their benefits package on an annual basis.

Another employee benefit is the right to apply for flexible working, which is something that is actively supported by Bluestone, Stuart explains: “Since COVID, flexible working has become part of our DNA. Our focus is on getting the job done right as opposed to doing set hours, and if you can work flexibly or remotely whilst taking business needs into consideration it will always be considered.”

Hybrid working is another offering at Bluestone. From employees working remotely permanently, to people who work from home a few days a week, Bluestone understands employees may need an adaptive working style, which Stuart believes helps them boost longevity, productivity and job satisfaction.

Bluestone prides itself on nurturing its teams. As well as an in-house Learning & Development (L&D) team and an e-learning platform, they have also recently launched the Bluestone Academy. The Academy is predominantly based at the resort but has strong relationships within the community and at local colleges.

It is an outreach educational programme which sees Bluestone out in the community encouraging a pipeline of local people coming to work at the resort. The organisation also offers apprenticeships which start from level 1 and other Higher National Certificate (HNC) degree programmes which go up to level 7.

Up-to-date policies and training for managers are key for Bluestone to ensure the team understand the legal rights of employees. Every two years, all policies are reviewed by an independent law firm to make sure that they are current. But it is not just policies that are reviewed, there are also several learning and development accreditations that need to be renewed across the business. That means attending local networks to learn more about employment law updates and what is happening in the market, ensuring Bluestone are ahead of things in a legal sense, so employee rights are always respected.

The recruitment market is shrinking in Pembrokeshire, with young people moving to the neighbouring cities and the older generation retiring, there are many jobs to fill in the area. Therefore, Bluestone knows they must be competitive. Benefits include a Bluestone bus that collects employees and brings them to work and a ‘Kids Camp’ childcare offering.

Stuart explains: “We have subsidised childcare on changeover days for our Housekeepers. It involves a professional team looking after the children, doing different outdoor activities, for just £5 compared to other local childcare options which might cost £50 per day.” This kind of benefit also successfully creates a culture that shows a duty of care that allows work to fit in with an employee’s family life.

Since COVID, flexible working has become part of our DNA.

Stuart Davies-Jaynes, People Services Director, Bluestone

The Outcomes of Being a Fair Work Employer

With a survey response rate of 82% (well above the industry average of 60%) and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 40 (which is considered above average), it’s clear to see that Bluestone is leading the way in terms of a satisfied workforce and championing the pillars of Fair Work. Support is always essential when taking these steps as an organisation. Whether that is having a dedicated advisor to using online resources, Stuart explains: “In several instances, Business in the Community (BITC) reassured us in terms of what we should be doing, what the frameworks are and helping us navigate guidelines. BITC support was particularly fantastic when we were looking to shape our health and wellbeing policy.”

For Bluestone, adapting Fair Work policies will help them to reach its aim of becoming the employer of choice in Wales. It wants to be a leader in driving employment trends of happy employees, low attrition rates, high levels of job satisfaction, and a contribution to the local circular economy by finding local people for good, local jobs.

In terms of starting on the Fair Work journey, Stuart advises other businesses to look at the advantages of it: “Some things don’t have instant results, but you have to stick with it. Start with policies, then add in some training and you’ll slowly see the workforce understanding it and consequently, buying into it.” He also urges businesses to seek advice from resources around them: “Even just looking on the BITC website, you can get so much information”.