Stafftember was an opportunity for employees at Theatre Royal Plymouth to find out about each other’s jobs, from operating the spotlights to casting a production. Rebecca Pettitt explains how it came about.

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Theatre Royal Plymouth is a large touring and producing theatre with three stages and a busy Creative Learning department. In total 312 members of staff keep the theatre running, ranging from stage door keepers, finance, communications, box office, technical, creative learning to set builders and many more.

Over 170 activities were offered to staff across all departments, catering for different interests and learning goals

During the whole month of September we put together a programme of opportunities for our staff to interact and engage with other departments in the theatre in a way they wouldn’t normally get a chance to do day to day. The initiative, which we called ‘Stafftember’, was led by the Staff Communications Group. Comprising non-managerial staff, the group exists to generate an improved organisation-wide understanding of working practices and help staff feel included and supported in the organisation.

Originally the idea came from our frontline staff, who wanted an opportunity to shadow different departments in the theatre and learn what they do. The first challenge was to get the senior management team on board. So the Staff Communications Group pitched the idea, showing how the initiative would fit in with our values of creativity, collaboration, quality and diversity. The senior management team were very positive and felt confident enough to give it their backing and push the event forward.

Stafftember activities

Every department came up with ideas about how other staff could get involved with their work, so that a Stafftember event planner could be compiled. As our organisation is very diverse, one size definitely does not fit all. This encouraged staff to think outside the box and consider our values when planning their activity.

Over 170 activities were offered to staff across all departments, catering for different interests and learning goals. Staff could learn how to fly out the house tabs, make a barista-style coffee, operate the spotlights on stage, find out how our artistic team cast one of our own productions, shadow the front-of-house team on a performance night, take part in a creative learning session, see how the workshop team make their sets and learn about various senior management roles.

The application process for staff was fairly simple and accessible for all, and we received 350 individual applications from the different departments in the theatre.

Positive feedback

We have received an enormous amount of positive feedback and have learnt some lessons for next time, as it will now be an annual event. Here is some of the feedback:

“It gave me an opportunity to try something new and meet with people I don’t usually see day to day.” Chloe, Marketing

“I learnt so much that I’ve taken back into my daily role.” Dani, Creative Learning

“I really liked giving our presentation to other departments. It gave us a sense of pride.” Judith, Finance

As a team, we took a risk but to our delight the risk paid off.

Rebecca Pettitt is PR Officer at Theatre Royal Plymouth.

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