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Case study

How Richmond Football Club improved employee engagement

Richmond Football Club is a strong and a bold organisation, driven by the purpose to enrich the lives of the communities they work within. Dr. Amanda Green joined Richmond Football Club as the General Manager of People, Culture & Performance in 2013.

Having worked with employee surveys previously, she entered an environment that had little patience for outdated and time-consuming employee engagement systems. When Dr. Green discovered Culture Amp, she saw it as the solution they needed – iOS enabled, dynamic, and capable of providing real-time results. Since 2014, Richmond has utilized Culture Amp to gather feedback from their employees.

Including the players in the survey process

Throughout their engagement surveys, Richmond included both their administrative and on-field staff. Dr. Green says, “Though the players are asked for their feedback through the AFL Players Association, we’re their employer. We’re their day-to-day experience. We’re building great people not just great players.” Engagement survey results from the players are used by the football department in conjunction with other feedback to ensure that the program is meeting their needs both on and off the field.

“The timing of the survey is important for our whole business and as the football department and players make us a considerable proportion of this it is important to get this right,” says Dr. Green. Contextual reasons, like time of year or even the phrasing of a question, can lead people to answer questions in a particular way. Richmond engagement surveys are deliberately run outside of season when the environment is the most settled and people can reflect meaningfully on their experiences. During the pre-season, the business is focused on preparation and gearing up for the year ahead, so there isn’t the same mental pressure that takes place in-season. Dr. Green says that the engagement survey, “Enabled us to pause as an organization and understand that our employees experienced the world differently in comparison to our players, who are effectively the face of our product.”

Feedback on and off the field

A theme across Richmond’s engagement survey the past couple of years has been around giving feedback, particularly in an intense sports environment. As Dr. Green explains, “On the field the players are time poor. They’ve got the psychological contract established with each other to give very direct feedback. But this does not necessarily work when we move from the field of play into the business areas of a football club. How does that translate into the way we give and receive feedback with other members of the Richmond team?”

In 2016 Richmond focused training around giving and receiving feedback. The workshops were about understanding how who you are, what you value, and your expectations, impact the way you give and receive feedback. People looked for answers to how they react when given feedback and how to manage their emotional responses.

A strong and bold organisation

“There are unique things about sporting organizations in terms of engagement because they’re strongly led by purpose,” says Dr. Green. In future surveys Richmond is looking to understand how to bring departments together. Finding a mechanism that gets everyone involved, engaged, and connected, outside of attending football together. A conversation around how unconscious bias affects the team has also been part of their plan to move forward. Dr. Green says, “Even if we think that we feel the same, everyone has a different set of perspectives and values.”

Richmond’s next survey will have a focus on health and well-being. “I love the fact that the tool enables me to keep what we want to benchmark over time and pulls things in and out that I’m using across a range of people culture activities,” says Dr. Green.


Melbourne, Australia

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