Of all the tasks that come with being a pool manager, scheduling staff has the potential to create the most headaches. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to make the whole process run more smoothly.
1) Hold an orientation meeting — and invite parents.
Begin the summer season with an all-staff meeting and send out an optional invitation to parents, suggests Nate Thorne of Aquatics International. He notes that today’s young adults are often over- scheduled and occasionally irresponsible. On the plus side, many have parents who are super-involved in their lives. So enlist the older generation to help.
“Much like a parent reminds a child to clean his or her room, I’ve found that parents also remind their children about going to work,” notes Thorne. “To my surprise,” he adds, “a good majority of parents in attendance at my annual meeting are parents of not only high-school-aged, but also college-aged workers.”
2) Get input first.
Before the season starts, ask all of your staff members to submit a summary of their available hours each week and have them mark any blocks of time they definitely won’t be able to work (due to other jobs, class schedules, family vacations, weddings, regular sports practices, etc.). Encourage them to let you know if their situation changes as the summer progresses.
Depending on your roster and the size of your venue, you may even want to ask in advance for staff members’ preferred hours. Gauge your ability to cater to these preferences before introducing the concept — if you’re running with a light crew and a large pool, this probably isn’t a realistic option.
3) Provide a preview.
Whether you craft a weekly, biweekly, or monthly schedule, once you have a rough draft ready, post it in the break room before finalizing it. This gives staff members a chance to see (and address) any potential scheduling snafus before it’s too late. The preview also provides an opportunity to flag times when you need more coverage — welcome news for those who want more hours.
4) Stay flexible.
No matter how well you plan and communicate the schedule, last minute changes are inevitable — whether due to sickness, injury, or an unexpected out-of-town visit from a beloved great aunt. Stay flexible, but put the responsibility of finding a replacement on the lifeguard who wants or needs the time off. And be sure to establish a clear process for communicating scheduling changes so that management knows exactly who to expect on the job, and when.
5) Set up a network.
Lifeguards and other staffers who feel valued by management are more apt to be employees you value. So consider hosting a monthly networking event with snacks and music. Encouraging your employees to connect and socialize will also make it easier for them to find coverage when they need to make a scheduling change.
By creating a flexible work environment with clearly articulated scheduling practices you can ensure that you’ve got the staffing coverage you need, all summer long.
At American Pool, we offer a full range of pool maintenance and management services — including staff recruitment, training, and oversight. Get in touch to talk through your needs.