In July’s issue of SportsField Management magazine and our article titled ‘Battling Burnout’ we discussed what you can do, as a field manager, to keep your staff and crew happy, productive and engaged. Space in the magazine is limited, so here are three more things we learned that you might find useful:

 1. It’s Important to Keep Work Fun for Employees

Just ask TJ Brewer, CSFM, and head groundskeeper for the Burlington (Iowa) Bees, the Cass A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels. “One of the most important things (regarding staff burnout) is that we try to keep the work environment fun for everyone,” Brewer says. “This is challenging as a manager because that means something different for almost every employee. Some guys like to rotate tasks; others are more comfortable doing the same thing day to day. We do our best to accommodate the individuals’ interests while maintaining a team environment.” Consider this article from Forbes magazine on the topic of the importance of a fun work atmosphere. The article, titled “7 Ways To Keep Your Employees Happy (And Working Really Hard),” brings up several excellent points that are applicable to field managers, turf directors and head groundskeepers. For example, one of the points is “Build Ownership Among Your Crew.” The article says that “You’ve got to get employees to feel that they own the place, not just work there … One way to inspire that feeling is to have each member of a team become familiar with what other team members are doing, allowing them to bring their ideas for improvement to the table and have input in the whole process.” Sounds like pretty good advice, right?

2. Keep Your Schedule Balanced

One of the best ways to avoid staff burnout is to manage employee hours, if able, by fine-tuning your work schedule to keep employees fresh and rested… think of it like a basketball coach managing his players’ minutes in a game, in order to avoid a player becoming tired and gassed. Keith Gorczyca, superintendent of parks and planning for the Streamwood (Illinois) park district, manipulates his crew’s work schedule to ensure employee’s aren’t overworked. “We really do not have a problem with employees who are overworked,” Gorczyca says. “Our seasonal staff is on a 29 hour a week work schedule. Their schedules are staggered so we have enough staff present seven days a week. This helps avoiding employees becoming overworked.  If full-time staff is required to work on the weekends, we give them time off during the week to make up for the time off hours.” Again, not all field managers are able to manipulate their schedules in this manner. But if possible, give it a try. Your employees will thank you in the long run.

3. Universal Principles

SportsField Management’s sister publication, Superintendent Magazine, tackled this issue in 2014. Though the article is obviously geared toward golf course superintendents, much of the principles cross over to sports field managers. For example, this list of burnout busters:

  • Have employees work a split shift, ensuring that each worker has alternating weekends off.
  • Hire more crew members to eliminate overtime, which can tire out employees.
  • Have fun. Put a Ping-Pong table in the maintenance facility. And let employees golf (in your case, play on the fields!)
  • Have a barbecue with all the fixings.
  • Make sure employees feel like they are part of the team.
  • “Attaboy.” Let them know that they’re doing a job