Letters
Have your say

Have you got a view on the state of the sports sector? A topic you want to discuss? An opinion on an article featured in Sports Management? Write to us at: [email protected]

Tackling the leisure industry’s flexible working conundrum
Rebecca Cox

In many shift-based industries, a large number of frontline roles are offered on a part-time or flexible basis. This sounds great for people with young children, carers or people with other commitments, but in reality many of these opportunities are limited to more junior, untrained roles, and the flexibility is often driven by employers’ needs, not those of employees.

With leisure centres open for 80 hours or more a week, our sector has a real opportunity to embrace a positive culture that ensures part-time or flexible employees are not overlooked for promotions, creating a genuine two-way flexibility that works for both employers and employees.

Timewise, a social business and change agent for the flexible recruitment market, has been working with several NHS Trusts to design and pilot flexible working in an industry where there are complicated requirements and numerous shift patterns.

Timewise’s report, Flexible Working in the NHS – The Case for Action, suggests employees want flexibility in their next role. Employers keen to attract and retain talent, particularly in a tight labour market, are increasingly recognising the need to offer this as standard. This means, in addition to developing a supportive culture, senior leaders need to ensure flexible roles are designed and implemented for each position and profession, in order to find a work-life balance for shift workers.

"Our sector has an opportunity to embrace a positive culture"

Worryingly, there is a national shortage of teachers trained to deliver the Swim England learn to swim framework, leading to 400,000 people missing out on swimming lessons, according to the Institute of Swimming’s 2017 Workforce Census. Teaching swimming is both a skilled and flexible job, with many of our qualified teachers praising the work-life balance their career provides. In addition, feedback from our Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme tells us our courses make swimming teachers feel valued, and helps them to progress and commit to their aquatic career.

While operational and cultural constraints can make two-way flexibility difficult to implement, with careful planning and testing, a work-life balance can surely be achieved in more shift-type roles and service industries, such as ours. And with skills shortages becoming a significant challenge for many UK employers, cracking this issue will be key to unlocking access to the wider talent pool that operators need.

Rebecca Cox, Managing Director, Institute of Swimming

Cox says supporting flexible work arrangements could attract more swimming teachers photo:© shutterstock/wavebreakmedia
Tackling the leisure industry’s flexible working conundrum

In January the NHS published its “ambitious but realistic” Long Term Plan which laid out its future for the next 10 years and where it addressed prevention, mental health and the role technology should play. A key factor was recognition that a lack of exercise is a leading cause of premature death.

A strategy is needed to take the pressure off the NHS and establish a genuine solution to encourage people to live healthier lives.

Research from ukactive shows physical inactivity over the last ten years caused “370,000 premature deaths and cost us £200bn.” However, the NHS plan neglected to mention the positive impact physical activity can have and there is huge potential to be realised from this sector.

Becoming physically active relies on both creating a healthy mindset and having a place to play. Schools don’t just have a role in creating that mindset for children, but also providing the facilities to conduct fitness activities. How people choose to spend their time is increasingly affected by convenience and with each school having its local catchment area, they are often the most geographically accessible place to play sport.

Schools own 35 per cent of the facilities in England, the largest proportion of any other operator type, and yet still 40 per cent of these are currently inaccessible to the public. Trusts, councils and commercial operators are all performing better than schools at providing places to play sports in the UK.

"Schools are the slowest adopters of online booking services, making them less accessible"

Many schools often don’t have the knowhow to advertise their facilities to the local community, or the resource or technology to manage bookings. Schools are the slowest adopters of online booking services, and yet the alternative is spending hours managing enquiries.

Data shows the booking conversion rates for schools stands at only 5.4 per cent, owing to the inability to make instant bookings. This is not only inefficient but creates a disincentive for people to organise a game or activity.

Sports charities are starting to play a role, which the Football Foundation demonstrated by rolling out its innovative booking portal for school football facilities across the UK. This in turn improves the opportunity for schools to raise money for their facilities, as being digitally accessible to the local community is now an important factor in funding decisions.

Perhaps schools need to be better educated about how to become more accessible? There are operational reasons that are often named as being a blocker to opening up facilities for public bookings, and one of the most common quoted is insurance, however this is often covered by their third party liability insurance, which is required by schools anyway.

Research from ukactive has shown there’s huge capacity for schools to play a major role in taking some of the strain off the NHS by improving people’s physical and mental health. Therefore, there needs to be better help for school facilities in growing participation rates by becoming bookable, increasing their exposure and improving accessibility through simple online booking technology.

Jamie Foale, CEO, MyLocalPitch

Schools need to be better educated about how to become more accessible, says Foale photo:© shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
 


CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
18 Aug 2019 Leisure Management: daily news and jobs
 
 
HOME
JOBS
NEWS
FEATURES
PRODUCTS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION
PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine

Features List



SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
2019 issue 2

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Have your say

Letters

Have your say


Have you got a view on the state of the sports sector? A topic you want to discuss? An opinion on an article featured in Sports Management? Write to us at: [email protected]

Tackling the leisure industry’s flexible working conundrum
Rebecca Cox

In many shift-based industries, a large number of frontline roles are offered on a part-time or flexible basis. This sounds great for people with young children, carers or people with other commitments, but in reality many of these opportunities are limited to more junior, untrained roles, and the flexibility is often driven by employers’ needs, not those of employees.

With leisure centres open for 80 hours or more a week, our sector has a real opportunity to embrace a positive culture that ensures part-time or flexible employees are not overlooked for promotions, creating a genuine two-way flexibility that works for both employers and employees.

Timewise, a social business and change agent for the flexible recruitment market, has been working with several NHS Trusts to design and pilot flexible working in an industry where there are complicated requirements and numerous shift patterns.

Timewise’s report, Flexible Working in the NHS – The Case for Action, suggests employees want flexibility in their next role. Employers keen to attract and retain talent, particularly in a tight labour market, are increasingly recognising the need to offer this as standard. This means, in addition to developing a supportive culture, senior leaders need to ensure flexible roles are designed and implemented for each position and profession, in order to find a work-life balance for shift workers.

"Our sector has an opportunity to embrace a positive culture"

Worryingly, there is a national shortage of teachers trained to deliver the Swim England learn to swim framework, leading to 400,000 people missing out on swimming lessons, according to the Institute of Swimming’s 2017 Workforce Census. Teaching swimming is both a skilled and flexible job, with many of our qualified teachers praising the work-life balance their career provides. In addition, feedback from our Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme tells us our courses make swimming teachers feel valued, and helps them to progress and commit to their aquatic career.

While operational and cultural constraints can make two-way flexibility difficult to implement, with careful planning and testing, a work-life balance can surely be achieved in more shift-type roles and service industries, such as ours. And with skills shortages becoming a significant challenge for many UK employers, cracking this issue will be key to unlocking access to the wider talent pool that operators need.

Rebecca Cox, Managing Director, Institute of Swimming

Cox says supporting flexible work arrangements could attract more swimming teachers photo:© shutterstock/wavebreakmedia
Tackling the leisure industry’s flexible working conundrum

In January the NHS published its “ambitious but realistic” Long Term Plan which laid out its future for the next 10 years and where it addressed prevention, mental health and the role technology should play. A key factor was recognition that a lack of exercise is a leading cause of premature death.

A strategy is needed to take the pressure off the NHS and establish a genuine solution to encourage people to live healthier lives.

Research from ukactive shows physical inactivity over the last ten years caused “370,000 premature deaths and cost us £200bn.” However, the NHS plan neglected to mention the positive impact physical activity can have and there is huge potential to be realised from this sector.

Becoming physically active relies on both creating a healthy mindset and having a place to play. Schools don’t just have a role in creating that mindset for children, but also providing the facilities to conduct fitness activities. How people choose to spend their time is increasingly affected by convenience and with each school having its local catchment area, they are often the most geographically accessible place to play sport.

Schools own 35 per cent of the facilities in England, the largest proportion of any other operator type, and yet still 40 per cent of these are currently inaccessible to the public. Trusts, councils and commercial operators are all performing better than schools at providing places to play sports in the UK.

"Schools are the slowest adopters of online booking services, making them less accessible"

Many schools often don’t have the knowhow to advertise their facilities to the local community, or the resource or technology to manage bookings. Schools are the slowest adopters of online booking services, and yet the alternative is spending hours managing enquiries.

Data shows the booking conversion rates for schools stands at only 5.4 per cent, owing to the inability to make instant bookings. This is not only inefficient but creates a disincentive for people to organise a game or activity.

Sports charities are starting to play a role, which the Football Foundation demonstrated by rolling out its innovative booking portal for school football facilities across the UK. This in turn improves the opportunity for schools to raise money for their facilities, as being digitally accessible to the local community is now an important factor in funding decisions.

Perhaps schools need to be better educated about how to become more accessible? There are operational reasons that are often named as being a blocker to opening up facilities for public bookings, and one of the most common quoted is insurance, however this is often covered by their third party liability insurance, which is required by schools anyway.

Research from ukactive has shown there’s huge capacity for schools to play a major role in taking some of the strain off the NHS by improving people’s physical and mental health. Therefore, there needs to be better help for school facilities in growing participation rates by becoming bookable, increasing their exposure and improving accessibility through simple online booking technology.

Jamie Foale, CEO, MyLocalPitch

Schools need to be better educated about how to become more accessible, says Foale photo:© shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Originally published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd