Feature Article - June 2019
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2019 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


From 2015 to 2018, the percentage of respondents who report that they are planning to add staff at their facilities has hovered around 20 percent. In 2019, 23.2 percent of respondents said they were planning to add staff at their facilities, up from 19.5 percent in 2018. At the same time, the percentage of respondents who said they plan to maintain their current staff levels fell from 77.7 percent to 73.5 percent, and the percentage who plan to cut staff increased slightly, from 2.7 percent to 3.3 percent. (See Figure 22.)

On average, respondents who are planning to add staff at their facilities will be bringing on 23.4 employees in 2019, down slightly from 25.6 in 2018. Respondents in 2019 are planning to add 3.8 full-time employees, 11.5 part-time employees, 10 seasonal workers, and 15.9 volunteers.

Respondents from rec centers, parks, Ys and camps were the most likely to report that they have plans to add staff in 2019. More than one-quarter (27.3 percent) of rec centers said they had such plans. They were followed by parks (26.7 percent), Ys (26 percent) and camps (26 percent). Schools were the least likely to be planning to add staff, with just 11.5 percent indicating they would be adding staff in 2019.

Respondents from Ys and colleges were the most likely to have plans to reduce staff, though only a small minority said they will do so. Some 5.5 percent of Y respondents and 5.3 percent of college respondents said they would be cutting staff in 2019.

Certifications continue to be a powerful tool that organizations and their employees (and potential employees) alike rely on to encourage and measure ongoing professional development in the field. Some certifications help prove a certain level of skill and knowledge to maintain safety requirements (think lifeguard or foodservice certification), while others simply test and qualify other types of professional expertise. A majority of respondents (83.2 percent) said they require certifications for at least some of their staff members. This number is unchanged from 2018. Of the 16.8 percent who said they do not currently require certifications, 20.9 percent indicated that they plan to require them in the future. (See Figure 23.)

Respondents from Ys and health clubs are the most likely to require certification for some of their employees, both now and looking forward. Some 98.6 percent of Ys currently require certification, and the same number of Ys plan to require it in the future. And 93.8 percent of health club respondents said they currently require certification, while 95.8 percent plan to require it in the future. Respondents from camps were the least likely to report that they currently require certification, with 72.6 percent indicating it is a requirement. Looking forward, that number rises to 78.1 percent. (See Figure 24.)