Feature Article - June 2012
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2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping

Staffing Issues

On average, respondents to the survey employ a total of 135.7, a very slight increase from 2011, when respondents reported 134.2 employees on average. For all respondents, the primary types of employees include part-time, seasonal and volunteers. (See Figure 17.)

Respondents from YMCAs reported the largest number of employees, with 241.9, while those from community recreation and sports centers and camps reported the smallest number of employees, with 97.6 and 98.9, respectively.

As might be expected, schools and school districts had the largest number of full-time employees, while camps had the smallest number of full-timers. YMCAs employed the largest number of part-time employees and volunteers, and parks and recreation organizations had the largest number of seasonal workers.

When you look at the slight increase in overall employment at all respondents' facilities and break it down according to the segment of the industry covered, you can see that some segments saw much more dramatic growth, while others saw falling employment. The largest jump in number of employees was seen among community sports and recreation centers, where there was a 20.6 percent increase from 2011 to 2012. They were followed by camps, which saw a 16.1 percent increase. Increases were also seen for health clubs (6.9 percent), and colleges and universities (1.6 percent). Meanwhile, the biggest drop was seen among YMCA respondents, with a 6.5 percent decrease in average number of employees. They were followed by schools and school districts (a decrease of 4.1 percent) and parks organizations (a decrease of 1 percent).

This year's survey saw a decrease in the percentage of respondents who are planning to reduce staff. Only 7.1 percent of respondents to the 2012 survey, compared with 9.8 percent in 2011, said they were planning to reduce staff. Another 15 percent are planning to add staff. More than three-quarters (77.9 percent) said they will maintain current staff levels. (See Figure 18.)

Respondents from community recreation and sports centers, camp facilities and colleges and universities were the most likely to indicate that they were planning to increase staff in 2012. Some 27 percent of community center respondents, 24.1 percent of camp respondents and 21.8 percent of college respondents reported that they had plans to add staff in 2012. Respondents from schools and school districts, as well as parks and recreation organizations were the most likely to be planning to reduce staff, though a majority of these respondents indicated that they planned to maintain current staff levels. Some 11.8 percent of school respondents said they would be cutting staff in 2012, while 84 percent plan to maintain current staff levels. And, 9.4 percent of parks respondents said they had plans for staff reductions, while 79.1 percent indicated that they plan to maintain current staff.

Among those with plans to increase their staff, on average, respondents reported that they plan to add 21.5 workers to their staff in 2012. Respondents from YMCAs and from parks and recreation organizations reported the biggest hiring plans, with YMCA respondents planning to add 56.5 workers (of all kinds) on average, and parks respondents planning to add an average of 26.2 workers. The smallest staff increases were expected among schools and school districts, which planned to add four workers in 2012, and health clubs, which planned to add 6.6 workers in 2012.

A majority of respondents in 2012 require some of their staff members to be certified, though that number has fallen slightly since 2011. While 87.2 percent required certification in 2011, 83.6 percent of the 2012 survey respondents said they require certification. Furthermore, fewer said they plan to require certification in the future. Just 16.5 percent of those who do not currently require certification said they will add such a requirement in the future, compared with 20.4 percent last year. (See Figure 19.)