Evidence Case Study: UKTV 


The following case study was provided as part of the evidence for the effectiveness of employee engagement strategies in improving performance, productivity and, in the private sector profitability.  It has been used cumulatively with other submissions compiled by many leading companies and organisations to leave little room for doubt about the statistical importance of engaging employees.

This particular case study is an additional support to The Evidence Paper


UKTV was formed in 1997 as an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks International.  Since then it has become a major industry player. It has 10 distinct channel brands which include: Watch, Gold, Dave, Alibi, Yesterday, Blighty, Eden, Home, Really and Good Food. These channels attract over 39 million viewers each month.


When Darren Childs arrived at UKTV as the new CEO in September 2010, he found a culture that was the opposite of engaged. An employee survey backed up his initial impressions. He set about changing the culture towards one that would encourage and reward employee-led-innovation. Since then, employee surveys are 75% based on understanding engagement across the company. Eighteen months since Darren took over, UKTV is 6% up in revenues against the same quarter in 2011, while the overall market is 10% down. Much of this is due to the rise in engagement amongst employees, and UKTV has also seen a marked decrease in absenteeism and turnover.

Individuals who suggest programming ideas that are green lighted for production are financially well rewarded. Darren and his Senior Team stress the importance of giving high recognition to the individual and the idea by communicating it across UKTV. The shows in current production that have come through this ‘Innovation Pipeline’ are all highly differentiated from other shows and have attracted the most excitement from employees.

Lessons include:

  • Creating an engaged culture begins from the top. The CEO should explain the purpose of the organisation and what it is trying to achieve.
  • Let innovation be creatively managed rather than judged by targets and processes. DON’T apply the same processes as you would to ordering paper clips when managing innovation.
  • Financially reward innovation and reinforce it with CEO and Senior Team promotion of the innovation across the organisation.
  • The CEO should be involved at the grass roots level in order to green light initiatives as they are suggested rather than using a drawn-out process of moving ideas up the hierarchy.

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