Gatwick Airport achieve ambitious workforce growth plans to support future expansion

After making a bid for a second runway, Gatwick Airport had significant expansion plans for their workforce. With a desire to maintain an excellent customer experience and forge strong links with the local community & wider region, they recognised that they needed to effectively strengthen the position of the current team and put a strong talent pipeline in place for the future. With the support of Discovery, leaders in results-driven recruitment, training, and development, Gatwick achieved a sustainable talent pipeline and experienced an uplift in employee performance.

The challenge

Discovery recognised that Gatwick lacked a consistent message in their recruitment campaigns, as each department acted independently and operated a separate attraction and selection approach. This posed a challenge because Gatwick wanted to ensure that they had people with congruent values and absolute clarity, which was difficult to achieve with the disconnected processes in place. A key part of delivering excellence for Gatwick was helping them to ensure that every touch point, every interaction and every communication, whether it was with an internal colleague or a customer, needed to be delivered around Gatwick’s values; the key to this, was the recruitment process.

London Gatwick is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It became an aerodrome back in the 1930s, but the airport we know today was officially opened on 9 June 1958 by Her Majesty The Queen.

Over the last 60 years Gatwick airport has grown from just 186,000 passengers to over 46 million passengers each year; flying to around 230 destinations in over 70 countries, with a long-haul network that has expanded to over 60 routes.

The Process

Discovery and Gatwick partnered to provide an end-to-end talent service including:

Job profiling and benchmarking – helping them to understand what ‘good looks like’

Recruiting early-career talent for their Aspiring Leaders programme

Developing the new recruits from the Aspiring Leaders programme

Providing Mentoring training

Recruiting managers for senior security teams

Training and development for senior security teams

Early career recruitment & development

A values-led recruitment campaign was launched to attract high-calibre early career talent for Gatwick’s Aspiring Leaders programme. Discovery worked closely with Gatwick stakeholders to gain full clarity of their core values as these were a crucial part of the campaign.

Discovery were tasked with recruiting for 6 roles. The initial attraction campaign yielded 631 applications – 494 graduates and 137 non-graduates. Utilising a robust, multi-stage assessment process, 32 high-calibre candidates were invited to the final stage assessment centre where 6 talented future leaders were offered, and accepted roles.

To fast-track the time to optimal performance, the new recruits were then enrolled on Discovery’s Early Career OPEN Programme, enabling Gatwick to develop their early-career talent without the expense of building an entire programme in-house, particularly as they recruited a fairly small number of graduates.

“Discovery’s impressive track record of recruiting and retaining very high-quality people made them the first choice for our Aspiring Managers Programme. We are committed to bringing the most talented people into our organisation and investing in their development to enable them to become an integral part of the business.  Discovery will not only recruit these people but, more importantly, will work with us as we develop them to become our future leaders.”

Louise Ash, Head of Organisational Development and Talent

Mentoring training

Discovery identified that, in order for the Aspiring Leaders programme to be truly successful, Gatwick needed a strong support structure in place. During the programme, the new recruits were assigned an experienced mentor to fast-track their development and reduce the risk of attrition. To make the mentoring scheme a success, all mentors underwent training to develop their coaching skills and prepare them for the role.

The mentors who participated in Discovery’s one-day training course gained the confidence that they could achieve the desired outcomes from their mentoring conversations. This resulted in more constructive and appropriate mentoring conversations, and an increase in engagement.

“Discovery delivered mentoring training to leaders in our business who are now acting as mentors to the new recruits on our Aspiring Leaders Programme. The training was engaging and informative and is already resulting in better conversations between mentor and mentee. I would highly recommend Discovery for mentoring training.”

Suzanne Hughes, Project Manager, Organisational Development, Gatwick Airport

Manager recruitment and development

To prepare for a larger footfall, new Security Team Leader roles were created. A multi-stage, robust recruitment process was implemented, with the support of Discovery, to attract both internal and external candidates for the roles.

To guarantee optimum efficiency when leading a team of people in a busy, fast-paced and challenging operational environment, the newly-recruited managers attended a bespoke, three-day experiential programme delivered by Discovery. The course specifically focused on clarifying expectations, relating to others, motivation and engagement, managing priorities and giving effective feedback. The delegates experienced blended learning, which consisted of theories and concepts, experiential activities and team discussions, to fast-track their development enabling them to become highly effective within their new roles.

“We received excellent feedback from the sessions held by Discovery, and were delighted with the quality of the programme and how tailored it was to our needs.

The training was extremely well-received, both by the delegates and the key stakeholders. I would highly recommend Discovery to businesses looking for a seamlessly delivered, tailored and fruitful approach to recruitment and development.”

David Harrison, Learning & Development Manager, Organisational Development, Gatwick Airport

The Solution

By using ‘The Discovery Way’ to optimise their workforce, Gatwick were able to achieve ambitious workforce growth plans and experienced an uplift in employee performance. The core values were successfully embedded into their workforce to secure a strong and sustainable talent pipeline for the future.