Tips for Addressing Staffing Challenges
by Keith Miller
Proven strategies for addressing the challenges of managing employees in the ever-changing seasonal attractions environment was the focus of “Staffing Hot Topics,” led by executives from four parks.
Sabra Reyes is director of human resources at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and she spoke about a program the park started called “10-Day Work and Play” to find people who will work at the park during the 10 most difficult days of the year. This is usually right before the United States’ Memorial Day holiday and right after the Labor Day holiday.
“We targeted people who are available on weekdays, like the elderly,” she said. “In addition to their normal wage, we offered them four season passes. We had lots of interest last year—100 applied, and we hired 40 employees. We even got a retired surgeon who’d always dreamed of working at an amusement park.”
Glenn Andre Viste Boe is chief operating officer of Skånes Djurpark. When the park saw a drop in employment applications in 2018, they asked current employees what originally drove them to apply to work there. “They said their moms told them to,” Boe explained. “So, we went to mothers and told them we wanted to provide the very best first-job experience to their kids.” The park reaped a reward of increased applications.
Samantha Annis, chief operating officer of Santa’s Village Azoosment Park, said her managers employed a clever idea whenever they were at a restaurant or business where someone provided outstanding service. They left business cards that said, “You wowed me today!” and provided their contact information and a note encouraging them to make contact if they were ever interested in a great place to work.
On the subject of getting current staff members to help recruit new employees, Reyes said her park offered money to each member for referrals: $100 for the first referral, $200 for the second, $300 for the third. Park staff really liked receiving this immediate gratification and provided ample referrals. The program had an expense of $50,000 in 2018.
David Gray, human resources manager at Lagoon Amusement Park, noted one frequent challenge was setting days and times for training sessions during employees’ off-hours that all could attend since some had unavoidable personal conflicts. The park made a determined effort to provide training during odd hours that these employees could attend. He said it may inconvenience the trainers but is worth the effort.
On the topic of employee retention, Annis said before the season ends each year, Santa’s Village gives out Golden Ticket Awards to employees the park doesn’t want to operate without. This gives these employees the feeling of truly being wanted and needed.