Benefits-Based Staffing

Recruiting and retaining quality seasonal and part-time staff can be a daunting task for any recreation provider. Because programmers are usually focused on providing services to the outside community, seasonal and part-time staff typically have limited opportunities to grow and develop.

In order to remain competitive with other employers–who many times pay higher wages–recreation agencies must begin maximizing and marketing the impact of their seasonal and part-time staffing programs, one of the larger teen programs many agencies operate.

For this reason, a Benefits-Based Programming strategy can be applied to part-time staff, like lifeguards, camp counselors, program leaders and desk attendants. The results of these efforts can be used to market the benefits of the service to the community, and recruit future high-quality employees.

This outcome-oriented approach focuses on a target group to produce identified benefits for participants who can address a community issue. Originally developed for youth in at-risk environments, the premise of Benefits-Based Programming is that the potential exists in recreation programs to address significant issues and create specific outcomes. J. R. Rossman and B. E. Schlatter describe the programming model with four phases.

Phase 1–Target Issues

The first phase involves identifying a major issue or problem and selecting preferred outcomes. These outcomes for seasonal or part-time staff may include the development of leadership skills, ethics and responsibility, or the enhanced awareness of related careers. This is accomplished by increasing the value of the individual’s work experience through cross-training in other areas of operation or providing additional training for a future position.

Phase 2–Activity Components

Activity components are implemented by writing performance objectives, identifying specific activities and procedures (daily or weekly), processing the activities and monitoring the achievement of activity objectives. The writing performance objectives identify observable outcomes. Then specific activities and procedures are identified to facilitate the achievement of the goals.

For a lifeguard, one specific activity is in-service training, with components to achieve the target goal. In developing future leaders, in-service sessions should include leadership training for staff members. For facility desk attendants, encouraging social interaction and learning customer-service skills can have a long-term impact on the individual, and improve the overall sense of community within the organization.

Once activity components are developed, the manager determines how to implement the changes into the existing employee training and review system. The facilitation and processing of activities are essential to effective Benefits-Based Programming. The mentor’s role is to process these work activities, and recognize individual teachable moments to maximize the long-term impact on the individual. Holding debriefing meetings with the staff after its shift or training session is an effective way to facilitate this process. Members should note successes and problems, and make needed changes to the program.

Benefits-Based Programming has two important contingencies. First, the system is manager-dependent, that is, the role of facilitation is taken on by the full-time staff supervisor but can be assisted by part-time supervisors. In order for this system to maximize the impact, it is essential to recruit qualified staff members who want to be a part of the program. Pre-work training (orientation) and on-the-job training can determine if an individual can perform basic job responsibilities. The supervisor can then move to mentoring, spending less time with task management.

Phase 3–Benefit Outcomes

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