As part of our overall communications strategy towards improving communications and engagement within the organisation, this employee newsletter ‘Around the Tracks’ will issue on a monthly basis. This, I hope, will create an even stronger ‘GRI’ team. In this opening newsletter, I want to acknowledge the hard work of our staff in a very challenging environment as well as providing an update on where our company and industry is today.
Greyhound Racing Ireland covers four distinct groups of staff: Tote, catering (EHS), track and head office. A number of management and administrative functions are delivered from head office here in Limerick while the crucial delivery of customer service occurs across 16 racing stadia. Some tracks are GRI owned and managed while others are privately run with some GRI staff on site. All are part of the wider greyhound industry. The GRI has responsibility for the commercial and regulatory development of the sector and in the years ahead, we will continue to clearly demonstrate through actions that we are pro-welfare and pro-racing.
Despite all the negative commentary around our industry, the worst recession in Irish history and continued fall in revenues across our sector, there are still over five thousand jobs dependent on the success of Irish greyhound racing. These jobs and the prize money provided by GRI, create an additional local spend which is important in all the local communities served by the stadia network particularly rural communities. The full economic contribution of our industry and the Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 was unveiled recently. The plan shows a proposed plan of investment to rejuvenate our industry now that our legacy debt can be cleared once the sale of Harold’s Cross is complete.
Improving staff morale will be essential to the success of our business. The Strategic Plan explicitly identifies a better working environment for our team around the principles below:
• Treating each other with respect and dignity
• Embracing diversity as an essential component in the way we work
• Applying the highest standard of excellence in all roles
• Promoting a growth and development culture
• Contributing positively to our racing communities and environment
• Recognising that profitability is essential to the sustainability of our industry
In recent months, I have spent time at local tracks speaking to staff to get an understanding of the challenges faced on a day to day basis. Every business, industry and workplace is imperfect in many ways; as such the new Strategic Plan will require regular reviews and alterations as challenges and the environment change. It will also require change if the industry is to move forward.
Early on in my new role, I held a staff meeting in Limerick. A large, diverse organisation like Rásaíocht Con Éireann can only be improved through incremental change in collaboration with all staff. The industry is undergoing significant reforms and the winds of change will not abate in the five years ahead. I concluded the meeting in Limerick by emphasising that ‘big ships get turned around slowly’. I have never believed things are as wonderful or as bad as others might have you believe. The task of building a better greyhound industry has already begun.
I look forward to working with you on that journey.