PortAventura World Parks & Resort has the good fortune to be located in the tourist hot spot of Costa Daurada, Spain, south of Barcelona. But it also means the Spanish attraction faces stiff competition from other leisure and hospitality companies when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff. PortAventura World remains a leader, thanks to the social, environmental, and economic commitments it has championed for more than 20 years.
Safety and Welfare at the Core
The PortAventura e-Healthy (e-Saludable) program is a natural extension of the sustainable management strategies PortAventura World has adopted since opening in 1995. The team signed up to the United Nations Global Compact in 2008, and the e-Healthy program was born out of this pledge to improve people’s lives. At its core is the safety, health, and welfare of staff.
PortAventura World’s initiative reflects a growing trend. Increasingly, millennials, Generation Z, and the tech-savvy Generation Alpha (children of millennials) want to work for employers that respect their values and work-life balance. Companies like PortAventura World are responding by finding ways to invest in employees’ emotional salaries, as well as their wages.
The e-Healthy program is “a big success,” says Choni Fernández Veciana, director of corporate responsibility at PortAventura World. “We have 2,000 employees participating in these activities”—out of a total workforce of 3,000 in peak season. “People love taking part and are happier to be here. This program really makes a difference.”
Along with making PortAventura World a more attractive place to work, the award-winning program is raising staff satisfaction levels, engagement, and loyalty, while reducing absenteeism, occupational illnesses, and accident rates. “People are not only happier and healthier, but we also have a better company atmosphere,” says Fernández Veciana.
Nurturing Healthy Habits
PortAventura World started its “Gain Life, Lose Weight” initiatives with workshops designed to raise awareness of cardiovascular health and promote healthy habits. Topics included stopping smoking, healthy eating, exercise, and stress management.
Staff members who sign up for a “healthy card” can gain points for the activities they complete that can be traded in for discounts at hotels, shops, and restaurants. The resort has a dedicated exercise training room, where employees can work up a sweat in Zumba classes or stretch out in yoga sessions. Experts give talks on how to sleep better and sun protection. The activities are hosted throughout the day and on weekends to ensure no one misses out. People will often repeat activities; staff have logged more than 40,000 training hours so far.
In 2019, PortAventura World extended the e-Healthy provision to employees’ families. Children can join their parents for a healthy breakfast, a workshop, and a Zumba class.
“Employees are talking to each other, sharing their experiences, and motivating themselves and others,” says Fernández Veciana. Co-workers are also creating their own team-building activities, such as hiking groups and soccer competitions. “We didn’t expect these positive collateral outcomes,” she says.
PortAventura controls the program’s costs by making smart use of its suppliers’ resources. “Most of the workshops are given by experts that our suppliers already have. Creating this kind of program is not expensive,” Fernández Veciana says.
Inspiring Volunteer Spirit
PortAventura World also fosters a deeper sense of purpose among employees through its volunteering programs. That work took a huge step forward this year with the opening of the 4-million-euro PortAventura Dreams Village. The 9,000-square-meter complex offers a unique experience for children and young people suffering from serious illnesses, along with their families.
The 9,000-square-meter complex consists of six specially adapted holiday homes. Families will have access to exclusive activities, coordinated by PortAventura World volunteers, as well as a restaurant, show area, and multiactivity sports zone. They can also visit the resort’s three parks. The PortAventura Dreams Village is forecast to host around 200 families every year. The project is funded by the Fundación PortAventura.
PortAventura World employees who volunteer at the village are “very happy because they can develop their own volunteer activities in the resort,” says Fernández Veciana.
PortAventura World also promotes philanthropy. Staff members can donate 1 euro from their salaries through an initiative called “Teaming” (Fundación PortAventura contributes 2 euros for every 1 euro raised). The proceeds are distributed to charitable causes, which are often close to workers’ hearts.
Companies that want to follow PortAventura World’s example need to take a long-term view, she recommends. “You cannot do activities that appear one day and disappear the next. It’s better to start small, consolidate your activities, and make them bigger year after year.”
Flexibility is important. In Spain, for example, many young people don’t have cars. “So, we created a car-sharing platform for them,” she says. In the staff canteen, people ask about food miles, the distance over which a food item is transported from producer to consumer.
The company directly links its e-Healthy program to its sustainable development goals. “It’s important people know that we are all working together in the same direction,” says Fernández Veciana. “If you have your employees’ loyalty and engagement, you will have a better future.”
Funworld Contributing Editor Juliana Gilling covers the attractions industry in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Contact her at [email protected].