Keeping an employee team motivated can be challenging, especially if the team works outside in both hot and cold temperatures or in the high humidity conditions of an indoor aquatic environment. It can be even more difficult if the facility operates year round. An aquatic team that works well together to achieve its goals will be more productive, can generate your facility more revenue and help to save on expenses. Most aquatic operators are familiar with the bead program but there are many more methods to apply to your reward and recognition program. Do you reward your team for bringing in business or facility rentals, recruiting other employees or living up to your organization’s values? Check out these ideas that were rounded up from operators around the world:

Mission, vision and core value based rewards: Many organizations have monthly, quarterly or annual recognition and reward programs based upon these important touchstones of the business. The reward can be of minimal expense – perhaps a certificate, lanyard, pin or sharing a meal with members of senior management would help to motivate the team. Are local businesses willing to work with you to trade memberships, tickets, or gift cards? One of the most successful “carrots” I’ve used is a meal voucher that can be redeemed at the park’s food and beverage outlets which is charged back to the department at cost only. Can you use social media or your website to recognize the award winners?  Your members or guests may add to the excitement of your team members receiving recognition.

Certification and/or skill based pay:  Employees who push themselves to achieve more can be rewarded for obtaining additional certifications/licenses that are relevant to the area in which they work. Lifeguards who can work in deep water/open water may be worth more to your organization than a shallow water lifeguard. Park service employees may be able to take a harnessing or man-lift operator course that would benefit the organization. Do you have employees who speak multiple languages? If it benefits the business, you may want to consider incentivizing.

Referral and contract fulfillment programs: Rewarding good employees who refer more good employees does everybody a favor. Perhaps after a referral is hired and successfully completes their probationary period, the referee receives cash, a bonus or a paid day off work. For seasonal facilities, can you reward those employees who work the entire season or a minimum of X hours (a number you can determine based on the needs of the business)? It may also be worth exploring a reward program for employees who refers participants to swimming lessons or pool rentals.

Finally, take a look at what development opportunities you can offer your employees. Our industry offers several conference volunteer and scholarship opportunities. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the World Waterpark Association (WWA), and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), all offer scholarships and/or reduced fees for volunteering at their annual conferences – not to mention countless other state and local organizations. High performing employees may be great candidates for these opportunities and will appreciate being recognized for a job well done.

Melissa Lockwood is an Operations Manager at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. Prior to joining Yas Waterworld’s pre-opening team in 2012, Melissa worked for municipalities in Texas and Missouri. She is an Ellis & Associates Instructor Trainer, NRPA Aquatic Facility Operator and Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, and an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor.