Handling Staffing Issues


Finding reliable employees has been a major challenge for recreation, sports and fitness facilities over the past couple of years. We all heard about “The Great Resignation” in the wake of the pandemic, and, in fact, according to Recreation Management’s State of the Industry Report, staffing issues have been the top challenge for respondents across the board for two years running.

With many of the baby boomers and Generation X workers who largely staff government jobs approaching retirement, it’s crucial to begin recruiting younger workers—including millennials and Gen Z—to fill empty positions and begin acquiring the job experience that will help them assume the leadership roles of tomorrow.

Q. How can we better attract today’s jobseekers?

A. Today’s job market favors jobseekers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the latest data shows 9.9 million job openings in the U.S., and only 5.8 million unemployed workers. To attract workers to your open positions, be sure to prioritize offering adequate compensation and benefits. If you haven’t raised your starting pay for your open positions since before the pandemic, it might be time to reassess. Budgets may be tight, but if you can’t offer a competitive salary or hourly rate, top talent will look elsewhere.

While Gen X has placed a high emphasis on work-life balance in their careers, it’s even more important for the following generations. Providing health insurance that covers mental health services is one way to attract them, along with allowing for mental health days to help them feel supported. Flexible—but predictable!—schedules are another way to let them know you want to help them reach their work-life balance goals.

Employees Interaction
Photo Courtesy of CivicPlus

It’s also important to be sure you’re giving your employees all the tools they need to do their jobs, and for millennials and Gen Z, that means providing digital tools. These generations have grown up with access to modern technology—fast internet, social media, smartphones and more. During the pandemic, many of them attended school entirely online, or learned to work remotely.

While your open positions might require in-person work, that doesn’t mean you should ignore modern digital tools that can help your staff work smarter. If your organization is still paper-based or using outdated technology, you might have a hard time finding—and keeping—younger workers. Fully embrace digitalization and automation of workflows and processes where possible, and offer remote and digital job opportunities whenever that’s possible.

Q. Turnover is a frustrating problem. How can we encourage our employees to stick with us?

A. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials stay at companies for less than three years, and data collected by LinkedIn says Gen Z members are changing jobs 156% more today than they did before the pandemic. With so many open jobs available offering higher pay, work-from-home capabilities and more, you’ll need to do as much as you can to keep your employees happy where they are.

First, make sure you’re providing tools that can help your staff get things done more efficiently and effectively. Digital tools and recreation management software can help streamline many processes, from program registration and payment to tracking your marketing efforts. The most talented employees will expect you to provide the digital tools that can empower them to connect with teams and co-workers, track their work and meet their goals.

Second, encourage your existing staff to stay with you by providing a rewarding career path. Providing access to educational programs that help employees expand their knowledge base is a win-win, as it improves the skills and knowledge of your staff while letting them know you’re dedicated to their career growth. Cement that commitment by providing opportunities for internal advancement for your top talent.


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