REDUCING TURNOVER: How to Keep Your Team Engaged



Turnover stinks... especially during peak season. The park is still in peak season--our guests are still coming in droves...but our line staff--not so much. To make matters worse, our remaining employees who have chosen to stay are now picking up the slack by staying later, picking up extra shifts, and coming in on their days off. As a result, overtime is off the charts and margins are narrowing. Even our best employees are becoming short-tempered, less engaging, and just plain tired. Guests are noticing a decline in service, quality, and friendliness. Welcome to the downward spiral that is the Dog Days of Summer.

So why is our staff leaving before the end of the season and, more importantly, how can we be more strategic about it in the future? That's the golden question.



You've got all the resources at your fingertips. You just need to know how use them. Below are some great resources that I've used to help me plan ahead and to "pad my schedule" in order to make it through to Labor Day:

Staff for Attendance Trends. A careful review of historical attendance will help us to better understand where our staffing levels need to be. Usually, there is a drop-off in attendance around the second week of August. This often tracks with the time during which children return to school. Of course, every market is different. In Orlando, for example, just as the summer season is winding down, traffic from our friends across the pond in the UK begins to rise. Labor plans need to be based on attendance and opportunity over simply what it was last year.

Reduce Overtime and Move On. Overtime records speak volumes. While many employees claim to like getting the overtime, it can take its toll rather quickly. When we look at overtime hours and divide by a factor of 8, it gives us the Full Time Equivalency (FTE) data that we'll need in order to increase our staffing levels for next year.

Turnover (Number per week and ratio of total staff). Understand the number of people who are leaving per week as well as the ratio of people leaving as it compares to your total staffing levels. It's also important to ask WHY. Exit interviews are a great way to understand the reasons behind an employee's separation with the company. Ask why whenever possible-but be ready and open to the feedback they'll share.

Hire for Availability. Do our minimum requirements for new hire availability and their summer commitment track with our attendance levels? If not, we need to establish minimum criteria for summer availability that includes a commitment to work through Labor Day weekend. If that's not possible, we need to develop a staffing plan in advance that fills the gaps without overworking our staff.

Pad the Schedule. When I worked at the Luxor, I learned how to pad my schedule. Now, I know what you're thinking. At first glance, that sounds like a bad thing...but all that I really did was schedule for call ins, or the 'flake factor,' as I often refer to it.

What I've shared above is a different way of looking at your staffing. While we usually focus on labor hours per week, that doesn't work well with August because, traditionally, those numbers have already been skewed by historically bad data-good attendance with lower than expected revenue. The response from some Financial officers might dictate that we continue to be conservative, keeping staffing levels low in anticipation of historically lower revenue projections. But to succumb to this is to prolong the cycle and to guarantee the same hum-drum results. In order to break free from the Dog Days of Summer, we must look at what we're doing during this time with fresh eyes and an open mind.

Change happens when we're open to the possibilities that it may bring to us.

Have a great week!

"Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality."

- Nikos Kazantzakis