Setting Up Future Parks & Recreation Professionals for Success

Setting Up Future Parks & Recreation Professionals for Success

Times are changing. The beginning of this decade dramatically accelerated the change. The pandemic--and just about everything else during this turbulent time--made many people reevaluate their priorities and professional goals.

Baby boomers are retiring. People are switching careers. Employees demand more from their employers.

According to Inc., millennials will make up about 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Thanks to technology, social media, and current events, they grew up with a different worldview than older generations.

To compete with the private sector, we need to understand what the future generation of professionals value and set them up with the tools to excel in their career development. Doing things because that's how it's always been isn't a viable option.

How will you attract the best new talent to your department?

Establish a Clear Mission and Culture

Millennials gravitate towards work that offers meaning and purpose in their lives. As a parks & recreation department professional, this mission is often clear--providing opportunities for individuals to enjoy the benefits of leisure, recreation, and nature.

What can set your department apart from others? It starts with your work culture. Just like you research potential employees, younger generations will investigate your organization before applying to or accepting a job.

Your job description, website, and social media presence can be tools to attract younger professionals. Use these outlets to convey your department's inclusive, collaborative, and innovative culture. Also, encourage employees to review their job satisfaction on platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor to help establish your organization's reputation as a great place to work.

Make Collaboration a Priority

Millennials and Generation Z grew up constantly connected. Waiting at home for a phone call or hearing busy signals is probably as foreign to them as cassette tapes. These younger generations thrive on communication and collaboration. They want clear expectations, a leader invested in their success, and a chance to be heard.

Growing up in the social media culture, they also crave feedback and validation. Sure, you don't have to "like" something every time they complete a task. But finding ways to acknowledge their efforts and progress towards goals helps to boost confidence, encourage engagement, and increase overall work satisfaction.

Flexible Scheduling

Work/life balance is more important than ever--especially to younger generations. In the wake of the pandemic, over 80% of the workforce wants to have at least one work from home day a week.

Flexible scheduling can be challenging for parks & recreation professionals--especially the more "hands-on" employees. Our schedules often revolve around programming and other departmental needs. After all, we work when others play.

Is there a way to strike a balance? It may take some creativity and a new perspective on completing tasks and projects. But for some positions, at least some work from home time is not out of the question.  

Update Technology

Technology is life for younger generations. They grew up with it and adapted as it changed. They rely on their devices to get through the day.

A department that uses innovative technology attracts a younger crowd. Millennials will quickly become disillusioned with paper-based work order systems and sifting through a pile of forms to analyze data.

Younger generations are more open to new approaches that use technology. They thrive with efficient ways to collaborate, track work, and manage their duties. They want the tech tools that help them excel in their career. The easier it is for them to access these tools--such as cloud based productivity software--the better able they are to do their jobs.
As a bonus, cloud-based software may enable some parks & recreation professionals to work from home or enjoy more flexible schedules without sacrificing the department's needs.

Many bright young minds are ready to innovate the next chapter of your parks and recreation department. Give them the tools and environment they need, and watch how your department thrives!