I keep my staff motivated by giving them ownership of what's going on at the pool, i.e. we set into motion any good idea they toss my way, I utilize them for planning & leading programs, I give extra training for those who want to improve professionally, etc. I also barter with companies who use our pool. For instance, a scuba diving company contracts to use our pool & gives my staff a big discount on that very expensive recreational program if they want to take scuba training. I host staff pool parties which is usually a big hit with lots of fun & food thrown in! For in-services we have team building, motivation, attitude, customer service, etc and let different staff lead it. This gets them involved, they learn great leadership, and they then take ownership for having to create & lead the IST. That is free and motivational; we love free!
Please, don't do drills. At least not manikin drills. I used to do manikin drills at my facility, until I discovered my lifeguards were spending as much time watching for impending drills as they were swimmers. Sure, it made them more vigilant, just not in the way I intended. I learned my lifeguards were actually swapping tips on what to watch for to know a manikin drill could be coming. None of these tips involved watching swimmers in the water. Just my two cents.
Check to see if your area restaurants, movie theatre, ice cream shop will donote small gift certificates to be distributed over time. Develop a point system and intervals for the distribution of awards.
Second, give the business owner or manager a free pass to access your pool in exchange for the gift certificate and everyone wins!
Dollar Lottery Tickets :) Cheap, fun, easy, and works well for of age employees
I actually do alot of team building at our in-service trainings just to keep the spirit up & not go where we know lifeguards can go while in the chair on duty, i.e complacent, lazy, inattentive, attitudy, bored, etc. Some good ones are the human knot, water baseball, extreme water calisthentics (even though sometimes this doesn't help attitude!) or just any silly fun thing to break up the monotony. Also, I'll select different peeps to speak about an assigned lifeguarding topic (obviously this goes to the staff who is capable!) at our in-services. This does a couple things, 1) we get informative information and/or a good review about a lifeguard topic/training and they get to hear it from someone other than the bosses, & 2) it gives them ownership, leadership & pride for getting to do the topic from beginning to end including research, preperation & delivery. On top of that, I keep a good, upbeat funky attitude so it rubs off on them to always be happy & in a great mood. I personally give each staff member (I have 50 in the peak season) a cupcake with a candle in it & card along with hanging up a banner on their outside of their locker for their birthday. They love it!!
As an "old school" aquatics professional and long time lifeguard, I find both your question and the state of life guarding in general very disturbing. What more motivation does one need to embrace the fact that they are paid to protect the safety of every person in and around the pool or waterfront that they are guarding and that their water safety, cpr and first aid skills can mean the difference between life and death at any moment. What I would suggest is that you have every one of your guards role play a phone call to a parent or loved one, informing them that there has been "an accident" and they need to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Once they get a taste of how terrible that conversation is, perhaps they will be motivated to do their job and do it extremely well. I would also suggest that you survey your customers to see how safe they feel with your current staff and if they notice any problems. Once you're aware of a problem, address it once and if the problem is not resolved, find another guard.