Feature Article - June 2008
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Get 'em Active, Get 'em Outside

Staffing Issues

Many respondents indicated that staffing their parks and facilities was a problem, particularly in light of increasing usage and demand from the community in conjunction with shrinking resources.

One parks supervisor in California said staffing levels were his top concern. "Acres per person has increased steadily during the past seven years, and the requirement of maintenance personnel to assist with additional duties such as weekends, events and programs is negatively impacting required maintenance time."

While growth is expected in staffing levels among many parks and recreation respondents, that growth is expected to be seen mainly in seasonal and volunteer resources. Parks and recreation respondents indicated they were anticipating an overall growth rate of nearly 40 percent in the number of people employed by their facilities between now and 2011, from an average of 226.2 employees overall to a projected average of 315.9 in 2011.

Growth in the number of full-time and part-time employees will be much slower—just 5.6 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, over the next several years. Much more growth is expected among volunteer workers and seasonal employees. Respondents from parks and recreation agencies indicated they expect the number of volunteers working for their facilities to grow by 21.4 percent from an average of 86.4 currently to 104.9 by 2011. And even greater growth is expected in seasonal workers. Respondents projected the number of seasonal workers to nearly double between now and 2011. (See Figure 41.)

Figure 41: Aquatic Programming

There are many issues that obviously go hand-in-hand with employing so many seasonal workers and volunteers. Many respondents indicated that seasonal fluctuations in staffing levels create real management issues. One director from South Dakota said, "We need to increase hourly wage for seasonal employees to be competitive, but budget limitations prohibit this."

Another respondent from Massachusetts indicated that staffing issues are "an ongoing problem that fluctuates seasonally."

The most common requirement of parks and recreation respondents' employees was CPR, AED and First Aid certifications, required by 82.7 percent. The second most common requirement was background checks. (For more information on background checks, see "Checking Them Out", at left.) Nearly three-quarters (74.8 percent) indicated that they require background checks for some of their employees. Nearly 69 percent indicated that they require a lifeguard certification. Nearly half (47.5 percent) said they require a pesticide application certification.