5 Things to Help Your Parks and Recreation Department Hire and Retain Top Talent

Written by Whitney Greene

Identify and hire staff members committed to creating positive civic experiences in your community.

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To directly push back against losing staff to the private sector, there’s a large misconception you’ll need to address surrounding compensation and benefits. It’s widely believed that working in the private sector versus the government space means more pay and perks. If your park and recreation department can address those two aspects in a competitive way, you’ll even the playing field dramatically. In addition to increasing wages and adding benefits like quality health insurance and generous paid time off, here are five aspects you can address to help raise your hiring and retention rates.  

Hire the Right Support Staff 

With the evolution of technology and society post-pandemic, the need for support positions in a parks and recreation department has changed. Some positions have grown redundant in this high-tech culture we live in. Other positions may need to be multiplied and their requirements revisited to make sure each role is contributing maximum value to the department’s growth. Taking the time to read through and evaluate older and newer job openings, their descriptions, and skill sets will not only help you acquire the right workers but clarify the department’s needs as a whole 

Implement Intuitive, Functional Technology 

Many park and recreation jobs are seasonal in nature. Millennial and Gen Z workers are typically on break from high school, undergraduate, or graduate school when they apply to work for a parks and recreation position. These two generations grew up around technology, especially Gen Z. If you make it seamless for them to access and interact with their work schedules, you’ll have a much easier time with punctuality and shift attendance. Apps they can access to view their schedules, swap shifts and request time off are very much wanted and respected by this demographic.  

Get Workflows in Place 

Overcommunicating is preferred when it comes to rules, regulations, and expectations. Contrary to some older generational stereotyping, millennials and Gen Z love to work. They perform best when they know what’s expected of them and feel appreciated. Having detailed workflows and processes in place will not only help you identify areas for improvement and efficiency, but employees can always have something to refer to if needed. Making these workflow documents digital and easy to access for employees is a valuable way to communicate what’s expected of your staff and allows for easier updates down the line. 

Provide the Necessary Training 

The very nature of seasonal work correlates with times of the year when accidents and tensions can arise. During the hot summers, workers like lifeguards are subjected to all kinds of stressors–from the weather and physical job demands to interacting with varying personalities in the public. The job can prove to be overwhelming at times. During the winter, high-traffic winter gatherings like skate rinks can bring out frustrations in customers. Checking in with your employees regularly and offering training on how to diplomatically handle high-stress interactions and unexpected emergencies can go a long way in helping your employees feel prepared and valued. People, at their core, want to feel seen and that their work has a purpose. Meet those needs, and your turnover rates are sure to slow. 

Ensure Healthy Work-Life Balance 

A career in park and recreation is incredibly rewarding in many ways, but as with all jobs, there are aspects that add pressure and strain if adequate breaks are not taken. We all need to step away and rest, permanent and seasonal parks and recreation workers included. Supervisors should make it a priority to deeply understand the complexities of scheduling and how to utilize scheduling software to their advantage.

CivicPlus® is an excellent choice in state-of-the-art software for all your parks and recreation department needs, including instructor scheduling. For more information and to speak with a solution specialist today, click here.