Hello All,

I supervise several indoor pools and am looking for ways to motivate our lifeguards so they don't get complacent and lazy.  We have small incentive gifts and Guard of the Week shirts we hand out, but at this point pretty much all of my guards have gotten all of the stuff already, so I am running out of ideas.  Is there anything you do at your facilities that really keeps the guards motivated to do a great job?  I am looking for great ideas that won't break the bank.  Thank you in advance for any ideas you may offer.

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Thank you all for the great ideas. It gets a little tough for me getting people to come in or doing stuff as a team because I manage multiple singe guard facilities such as hospitals, therapy centers, apartment complexes, high schools, etc. There are definitely some good ideas that i can implement. Thank you all again.
Run a separate meeting at each or run a coordinated session online say using twitter or set up a blog for just your staff and attach staff newsletters to paychecks whenever possible or necessary.

Check this website www.thinkexist.com for quotes (as I mentioned in my first post I hang up motivational or annecdotal comments to help develop my staff) I also frequently print and leave articles from Aquatics International (web and hard copy) and a few blogs and such that I follow on twitter for certain staff or on the bulletin board in the office for reading on break.



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!

Try doing surprise drills!  I have come up behind a guard with a staff person to replace them and asked them to perform CPR or swim across the pool in their uniform.  I would always change it up and they never knew when it was coming.  You can have sr staff do this too so they are not always looking for you to come out on the pool deck.  It also got me to rove the pool deck more often, and I loved being out of the office more!
I agree! Drills, drills, drills! There are so many scenarios, its hard to run out of ideas. Do different levels, too. As simple as a silhouette or manikin in the water to as complex as a fake blood/vomit multi-victim (just make sure you warn patrons as they enter the pool area about a half hour ahead of time, they'll be pleased to know you are testing staff). Good luck!

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!

One thing we also do is a once a month social event, outside of the facility, away from the pool. We'll go bowling together or to a movie, or out to eat. Anything to help build the team and have fun helps keep them motivated.
I like "Guard of the hour" each hour of recreation swim the most attentive gaurd gets the golden (yellow) rescue tube. It keeps them fresh and makes the manager stay on deck to watch and pick the next hours guard. I like "Aquatics Supervisor for a day" the Aqautics Supervisor and the Lifeguard of the session trade jobs for a day. I like to buy my hardest workers lunch. My wife hands out $10 starbucks cards a lot to star performers. We get lots of food gift certificates onations from local restaurants that our guards eat at regularly... Finally my long running favorite is the best parking place in the lot for our Staff memebr of the week/month/day...

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!!

Hi Adam,

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.    


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