Walt Disney wanted people to feel as if they were in another world when they stepped into Disneyland. Even today, British employees of the global entertainment giant sometimes feel they have to pinch themselves.
Not only are their offices dotted with cartoon characters such as Bruce, the great white shark in the blockbuster animation Finding Nemo, and Mickey Mouse, but the company also offers some fantastic rewards.
After an intensive period on a task force for major launches, Katie Frame was exhausted. Then head of creative services at the head office in Hammersmith, west London (although she now works on freelance projects), she was delighted when her colleagues nominated her “star player” of the year.
“We were all in fancy dress at a celebration party, when they announced the award,” she says. “I was over the moon. Not only did I have a fantastic night, but I had an extra week of holiday to take my boyfriend to Disney World in Orlando.”
This is one of the perks of working for one of the most valuable brands on the planet, making about $27 billion a year across 116 countries. The UK generates the most money for the company’s European operation, which has 5,000 staff, two theme parks and eight television channels.
Disney offers employees the chance to develop their ideas into jobs. Tammy McFeggan started as a custodial hostess cast member (“in other words, a sweeper”) in Anaheim, California. Twenty-two years later she is manager of corporate community affairs in Britain, finding good causes for 2,000 “VoluntEars” within the firm.
“I studied in London and always wanted to come back,” she says. “So I was delighted when I got the chance to start a community affairs division in the UK. We have got involved in everything from giving toys and time in the warehouse for Capital Radio’s Christmas appeal, to painting a Goofy mural for the Hayward playground in Islington.”
The company gave £75m to charity in 2002 worldwide and the hours that staff spend working for good causes are converted into donations for their chosen charities.
Disney scores highly for keeping staff cheerful: 75% love working there and almost as many feel a sense of family in their teams; 83% say they would miss the place if they left. Two-thirds say the company makes a positive difference to the world, in the top 25 in our survey.
There is no profit-related pay, and only one in 20 employees have performance-related bonuses, but there are other incentives, including 35% discount on some products, six free admissions to any Disney park, private healthcare and life insurance.
Perks for parents include five weeks’ unpaid leave, special movie screenings for the family and school holiday events.
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