Fall Flight – Are You Short Staffed Heading into August?

You know it’s coming. August presents a major staffing challenge at every outdoor pool. College guards leave, high school staff drop off the schedule for sports and essential family vacation requests seem to pop up out of thin air. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up in the guard chair. Not to worry. It’s still early in the month and if you act quickly, you can avoid the fall flight. Here’s how.



Plan Ahead – If your end-of-season schedule isn’t already made, make it now. Give yourself plenty of time to address the schedule gaps.

Post the Job – It’s not too late for a job posting, and you never know, your dream candidate with an open schedule may still be out there. Post your open guard position on every job board you can find. If you have colleges nearby make sure you’re attending their job fairs. Students returning to campus may be on the hunt for a part time gig.

Offer Incentives – If you’re not confident you’re getting all of the hours you can out of your existing crew, see what incentives you can offer to encourage them to take extra hours or extend their season. Talk to your HR team about bonuses and pay raises. Talk to your upper level management to see if they have perks, tickets or freebies to offer. With a few incentives in hand you’re more likely to close the last few gaps on the August schedule.

Run a Feeder Course – Team up with a local LGI and offer an incentivized guard class over the next two weeks. Participants who successfully complete the program are immediately hired on and if they pick up a certain number of shifts in August their course fee is waived.

Cross Train – If your candidate pool is limited, look to your dry land staff who may have extra availability in their schedule. Add them to your aforementioned guard class at no cost and make them a versatile swing staff member on your team. Existing facility staff don’t take as long to onboard and already know many of your job expectations.

Phone a Friend – Talk to other pools in the area and see if they have extra staff. Indoor pools may have guards with additional daytime availability. August may be their slow season and they may be able to help out in a pinch.

Keep the Guards in the Chair – It’s not unlikely that your guard team does more than just guard. If they have auxiliary tasks (evening cleanup, pool vacuuming, swim instruction…) consider reassigning these less-essential tasks to staff who don’t carry the guard certification.

Stick to Your Guns – Now is not the time to be the friendly boss bending the schedule rules. If you get a late vacation request, deny it. If someone doesn’t fill a shift per your protocol, make sure they’re written up. Make sure your staff know the scheduling protocols as you head into the end of the season and give them fair warning that these rules will be enforced.

Run Break Periods – If your team is maxed out and overschedule, implement rest periods through the end of August. Schedule times every 60, 90 or 120 minutes for a brief break in swimming. This will give your guards a chance to take their necessary, scheduled breaks.

Close Sections or Amenities – If your team is limited consider closing certain pools, sections of pools or aquatic amenities that tend to overutilize staff. Waterslides, lazy rivers and wave pools often require multiple sets of eyes. It’s better to shut them down, then to run short staffed.

When All Else Fails – Still can’t fill the schedule? Implement limited hours late in the season. Your patrons may be upset, but it’s a safer solution than running without enough guards. A well-crafted press release or memo to patrons goes over better when it’s done weeks in advance. Get this plan in place now if your Labor Day staffing situation looks bleak.