Resources and skills

Office staff member and catering staff in the newly refurbished staff cafe at Heelis, Wiltshire

We’re here for the nation as a whole

We want more people to be moved and inspired by our outdoor places

Top: The newly refurbished cafe, shop and reception area at Heelis, Wiltshire
Middle: Staff member cleaning a leather seat cushion at Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Bottom: Visitor and hearing guide dog at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Top: The newly refurbished cafe, shop and reception area at Heelis, Wiltshire

Middle: Staff member cleaning a leather seat cushion at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Bottom: Visitor and hearing guide dog at Mottisfont, Hampshire


During 2016/17 we focused on providing the right training, systems, processes and ways of working to enable our staff and volunteers to feel confident in delivering our strategy.

We have over 7,000 dedicated and skilled staff who work with us all year and a further 4,000 staff who join us through our busiest summer months. Whether our staff are permanent or just with us for a few months, we take their welfare and training seriously – along with our volunteers, our people are our ambassadors.

Improving staff satisfaction

Every year we ask our staff to tell us how well we are performing as an employer. This year we had a record survey response rate and once again we were pleased to beat our annual staff satisfaction target: 94% of staff completing the survey said they were satisfied working for the National Trust with 61% strongly agreeing. This is an excellent achievement in what was one of our busiest years. Our annual operational management satisfaction dipped slightly year on year. This survey measures how empowered and supported our General Managers and regional management teams feel. The reduction is mainly driven by a reduced number of positive responses to the survey statement ‘decisions are made in a reasonable timescale’. We are holding focus groups to understand better what’s driving this response. Our staff survey results were reflected in the ‘Best Companies’ survey which recognised us as the 16th best not-for-profit employer in the UK and also rated us an ‘Outstanding employer to work for’.9

Developing our people

In 2016/17, we have continued to develop the skills and confidence of our people, delivering over 23,000 days of training and development.

Better professional development

To ensure our expertise and professional standards are first class, we have focused on developing the professional skills of our staff within our in-house consultancy,10 delivering over 2,000 days of training for our in-house consultants. Through a series of what we called discipline reviews, we have improved the professional skills of our rural surveyors and estate managers, building surveyors and gardeners. We have also conducted a comprehensive review of our curatorial community to ensure we have the right skills to enable us to deliver our strategic ambition to create experiences of our places that move, teach and inspire our visitors.

Property team skills

We have continued to help our property teams give excellent visitor experiences, as well as improving the skills of our catering teams and property heads of department.

Better systems – Systems Simplification Programme (SSP)

The SSP was a three-year programme to improve supporter loyalty and reduce internal inefficiency by modernising our systems and simplifying our processes, as well as deliver better management information. The programme came to an end in February 2017. This programme saw the introduction of a new website with member self-service functionality, a new finance system, a new procurement system, and new marketing and analytics systems. We also introduced new tills which will continue to be rolled out across the Trust throughout 2017.

SSP offered us a unique opportunity to deliver a complete and coherent suite of systems that are easy to use, interconnected and deliver benefits to both our members and staff.

Staff pay and recognition

We recognise the importance of being transparent and accountable in all aspects of our work, including how we reward and recognise our staff. As a charity, we must use the money given to us by our supporters wisely. However, we must also ensure the pay of our staff remains fair and attractive enough to enable us to retain and recruit great people, with the right skills to help us deliver our strategy and priorities.

Our pay policy

We have a clear, transparent reward and recognition policy. We adopt a ‘total reward’ approach, as we recognise our staff are not motivated or attracted solely by pay. This enables us to build a distinctive employer reputation, highlighting why the National Trust is a special place to work. We reward our staff on their individual performance and contribution to the Trust’s strategy. We ensure that staff who perform well progress through our pay scales within a reasonable timeframe. Every year we compare our pay scales against those in the public sector and not-for-profit sector. Each year we agree our pay arrangements with our trades union, Prospect, as part of our Partnership Agreement.

Senior manager pay

The pay arrangements for senior managers are not covered by the Partnership Agreement. Instead senior manager pay is determined by the Senior Management Remuneration Committee. The Committee is appointed by the Board of Trustees and oversees the remuneration of the Director-General, the Executive Team and other senior staff. The Committee includes three members of the Board of Trustees and two external independent members. All members of the Committee have the experience and skill to make appropriate remuneration decisions.

On an annual basis the Committee reviews the remuneration of all senior managers, considering individual performance and external benchmarking data to ensure levels of remuneration remain appropriate and enable us to recruit and retain great staff. Senior managers receive an annual pay award, using the same criteria used for all staff in the Trust. Senior managers receive the same level of statutory and voluntary staff benefits offered to all other staff.

Following the Hutton Report, on an annual basis the Trust monitors the ‘pay ratio’ (this is the relationship expressed as a multiple between the highest and the median salary level within the Trust) to ensure our salaries remain fair and relevant. The ratio, which is currently 1:11, compares favourably to external benchmark data.

Director-General remuneration

In 2016 the Director-General, Dame Helen Ghosh, earned a base salary of £191,318. The Director-General is the head of a large and complex national organisation, with an annual income of over £590 million and over 11,000 permanent and seasonal staff. The National Trust is one of the highest income-generating charities in the UK and therefore the Director-General’s salary is comparable to the heads of other major charities, senior government civil servants and the chief executives of medium-sized private-sector organisations.


The Best Companies survey is seen as the most important engagement survey, ranking Britain’s best employers. This year, for the third year running, the Trust improved its position on the list from 37th to 16th.

10 Over 600 experts, drawn from a huge variety of professional disciplines, make up our Consultancy. Operational teams call on their expertise – for major projects and programmes as well as ongoing advice.