Episode 28 – Short Staffed

Your Sports Resource

In this episode, delve into the workforce challenges of swimming or sports clubs and the impact of being short-staffed on their operations. Now I know a lot of clubs are facing challenges getting the right staff, mainly, namely coaches.

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00:00:00 Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast. Where each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in Youth Sports Leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone, Renata here. Thank you for joining the Your Sports Resource Podcast. I really appreciate you tuning in and giving us a listen.


On today’s episode, I want to talk about the craziness of the workforce as it relates to swimming or sports clubs in general. Now I know a lot of clubs are facing challenges getting the right staff, mainly, namely coaches, right?


I would say pre-COVID it was more the smaller clubs were struggling to find staff or maybe just quality staff, but today yeah, it seems to be a problem across the board. I mean, have you looked at the job boards on swim swam lately?


I mean, just before this episode, I saw an ad on LinkedIn. It came through. It said, you know, looking for a job in swimming. Check out our 3920 jobs that are open. I mean, that’s pretty crazy. Right.


And from what I understand, sub clubs are really paying pretty well, like they’ve dramatically increased their staff salary budgets for head coaches or associate head coaches and age group coaches anyways, right?


So that means that the competition is even higher for these clubs who desperately need coaches. And to be honest, I’m not going to act like. I really know what’s going on. I don’t know that I completely buy into this whole thing that people don’t want to work and that they want to sit at home and collect checks from the government.


I mean, I guess that exists. But honestly, how are they making those? I just think that’s a dismissive response or answer and not really grounded and a whole lot of truth, I mean I guess it could be true for some people, but I don’t really think that’s by and large how things are going.


If I had to guess, I would say that people resiliency is probably at an all time low and quite honestly they don’t want to work at a place where they can’t align with the values or the club culture at a certain level.


Is it only that? Probably not, but it’s important to know and understand that factor when trying to find staff. So, what I thought I would do is I would provide some thoughts on how to get over the hump of recruiting and not just recruiting, but finding the right people, not just warm bodies. Right.


So, the first area I want to talk about is how you recruit?


I still see a lot of clubs just putting out ads and then kind of just leaving it there thinking that people are just going to run to them right now. In this environment it doesn’t really support a non-proactive approach.


Quite honestly, you have free resources at your fingertips, it just takes a little work, right? So, the first area would be your social media.


Now, I don’t want you to go out and buy ads on Facebook or Instagram because in my opinion, unless you’re spending a crap ton of money, those avenues just don’t produce results. OK?


Regularly posting about looking for whatever job you need is what you should be doing. So, you’ll need to be creative, but it doesn’t mean that you have to have like award-winning graphics or like this amazing place to add.


No, you just need to post often, and you need to talk about specifically what you’re looking for, right? You already have an audience, so just be creative in your statements.


So instead of we need a coach. Do you want a job? Try something like, want to join a team that just crushed junior nationals?


Your audience already loves you and looks at what you’re posting and shares what you’re posting and likes what you’re posting.


They’re invested in you, and if they know that you are in need of someone, they might actually just share it with somebody else.


Say, hey, did you see? So and so had a job opening, right, so regular postings on your social media is the first thing you should be doing.


The second audience for your recruiting is your membership in your coaches. Hear me out.


I’m not saying to recruit a parent, but you should really push the information to your families and to your coaches and tell them, hey, talk to the people that you know, right again, be a clever in your approach so then it makes an impact.


But you know you already have that built in audience that can go and talk to other people and say, hey, my club is looking for a coach, I think you would be a great fit putting your resume, right?


Another big factor to think about or think through in all of your recruiting efforts is that if you aren’t showcasing your culture like how positive it is or that you want someone to make an impact on your culture.


You’re really missing the boat.


Referring back to how I started this conversation and that people need to know that you are a club, they want to be a part Of right. Salary is no longer the only motivator.


If you have awesome stories to share, share them or put a link to the stories in your ads, like put them on the back end of your website or something like that, or, you know, create, oh, this is what our customers say or our client say, or family say whatever it is and then put a link


To that in your ads. Something that shows who you are as a club more than just what happens in the water or on the field, right?


Now while we’re here in talking about culture, I want to dig in a bit deeper. If I were to use swimming as an example, there’s over there’s well over 3000 clubs in the country, right? But it’s still a really small community that talks and shares.


People are aware of how other clubs operate. Is there a good working relationship with the coaches, how does the head coach treat their coaches? Treat their coaches, right?


How do they operate with the board? Is it a board that supports their coaches or not? Is it a place that attracts people and don’t think you have to be a big club to attract the right coach, right? That’s not the case.


Yes, it would be good if your athletes are achieving things, but honestly, people want to be a part of something. They want to be valued right.


And they want to give value. So, if you’re a club that is still operating under the old command and control management structures, you need to work to get out of that and move into investing in your staff and actually leading instead of managing.


So, I know I’m going into leadership principles, but this is a big portion of your culture when you’re trying to attract staff, OK.


True leadership is where you are approachable and create connections. It’s where you take feedback as much as you give it so others feel heard.


You will include and value people, thoughts and opinions. Where you build trust by being transparent, where you ensure your people have opportunities for growth.


These are all, you know, really easy and great words to come out of my mouth but that doesn’t make them untrue. It takes a certain kind of leader to lead in this way and not just provide lip service.


In all of this is what creates excitement and an amazing culture and a place that people want to work at. OK, so if you were working to be or a club that operates in this fashion, then you should be shouting it from the rooftops when you’re recruiting, right?


Your staff will also be talking about you and your recruiting. You know, they’ll say, yeah, hey, I love this place. I you really should come work here. OK?


If I really think about it, I think one of the best indicators on how a business in general is doing is if a staff would recommend working there to someone else, don’t you think?


Now I recognize this isn’t an easy fix and it will take time, but it is something that you should use and talk about when trying to find these staff. And remember, it is a small community, so people talk and they know about your culture, whether you think you’re keeping it hidden or not, OK?


Now, the last thing I want to talk about when trying to find staff in a time when it seems like pulling teeth to find someone is that you need to be creative. That’s both in how you recruit to what you’re offering. OK, maybe when you ask your coaches and families to help you find someone, you can offer a referral fee, not you recommend someone, and we hire them.


You get a $200.00 bonus or you get a free month subdues, or a 10% discount on dues or something like that. Some type of incentive. OK.


Also, be open to adjacent skills and people capacity to learn and grow. If you’re looking for an office person or an admin person, do they have to have a lengthy resume or can they just demonstrate that they’re organized and detail oriented?


That’s assuming you have someone to train them, but don’t automatically rules roll out people because you know they just don’t match the skills perfectly.


Now, that doesn’t mean that you automatically gloss over those skills either. Again, you have to suss out if you feel they will listen and learn and if they’re proactive in that learning, right? But the point is to look at the whole person.


Another approach that might be maybe it’s not creative, but you know, is to look with them, maybe don’t automatically look outside of the organization given internal review and see if you might have someone that can take on the challenge another area.


Is maybe in your recruiting package you can offer some incentives that are attractive, but something that the individual has to work for, right?


And the reason for that is for buy it right? Well, for you also you don’t have to just up your, you know your pay an extra 20K because you’re desperate, but it gives them a reason to 1 they’re coming to you, but also you’ll get buy in because you’re like, oh, if I do XY and Z.


Maybe I’ll get an extra $20,000 bonus. Now, 20,000 is a lot of money, but you know what I mean there.


And the last one is alright; well I might get a little hate for this one but look at people from clubs around you. Desperate times, man.


This is how I look at it if you’re able to entice a coach or a staff member away from another club, then isn’t that on the other club?


I mean, if they were a great place to be, then that person would just stay put they would say no to your offer.


Now, again, make sure you really sass them out and that you make sure that they’re not just coming to you for a pay raise, right?


Because if that’s the case, then they’ll probably move on from you for the next club, right? They still need to meet your needs culturally and values-wise, as well as skills.


Now, I’ve never been accused of being creative, so I’m sure there’s bigger and better ideas out there. My point though is that you have to approach getting the staff you want very differently than you have in the past.


You just can’t expect people to come to you unless you have a phantasmal reputation with the solid culture, right? Which is my dream for all of you.


Alright, thank you for listening and please subscribe, rate and review this podcast. It really helps our standing and allows us more visibility with listeners.


I appreciate you spending time with me.