Job search
Job Search

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]

Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

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
Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Sports jobs
Everyone Active
featured job

Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive hourly rate
Job location: Nationwide

Finchley Lido Leisure Centre

GLL
Salary: Up To £23,894 PA (based on 40 hours per week)
Location: London N12 0GL, UK

Assistant Manager

GLL
Salary: Up To £34,966 PA (based on 40 hours per week)
Location: Epsom KT17 1BN, UK

General Manager

GLL
Salary: Up To £31,251 PA
Location: Bradford, UK

Fitness Class Instructors

Anglia Ruskin University
Salary: Hourly paid upon submission of claims
Location: Chelmsford, UK

Swimming Teacher

Circadian Leisure Trust
Salary: £10.96 - £13.24 per hour
Location: Yate, Bristol, UK

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up To £25,655 PA
Location: London, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £9.00 per hour
Location: Belfast, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum
Location: Cambridge, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum
Location: Amersham, UK
recruiting with sports management

Assistant General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive salary plus benefits
Location: Telford, UK

Team Leader

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary
Location: Bristol, UK

Swim Manager

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Rates
Location: Alton, UK

Duty Manager

Mytime Active
Salary: £20,000 - £25,000 per annum
Location: Bromley, UK

Recreation Assistant / Lifeguard

Mytime Active
Salary: £17,076.80 per annum pro rata
Location: Bromley, UK

Assistant Head Climbing Coach

Everyone Active
Salary: £23,000 - £26,000 pa
Location: London, UK

Receptionist

Legacy Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Exeter, UK
recruiting with sports management

Leisure Centre Supervisor

GLL
Salary: Up To £22,930 per annum
Location: Belfast, UK

Duty Manager

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary
Location: Great Cambourne, Cambourne, Cambridge, UK

General Manager

truGym
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Stevenage, UK

Receptionist

Legacy Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Nailsea, UK

Membership Consultant

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive
Location: Romford, UK

Assistant Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £31,251 per annum
Location: Faringdon, Oxfordshire, UK

General Manager

Lex Leisure
Salary: Up to £40K plus generous bonus arrangements.
Location: Tilgate, Crawley, UK
training with sports management

Contract Maintenance Manager

Everyone Active
Salary: circa £33k
Location: Harrow, UK

Assistant General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive salary plus benefits
Location: Catford, London, UK

Assistant General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Telford, UK

Female Fitness Studio Manager

SportsJobs4Women
Salary: £1,900 / month + commissions (OTEs of £3,000 - Tax Free)
Location: Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum
Location: Bath, Somerset, Bath, UK

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £19,775 per annum
Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £9.00 per hour
Location: Chesham, Buckinghamshire, UK
lifeguard jobs  swimming teacher jobs  recreation assistant jobs  apprenticeships jobs  personal trainer jobs  Gymnastics Coach jobs  duty manager jobs  assistant manager jobs  general manager jobs  assistant general manager jobs  Catering Assistant jobs  Customer Services Advisor jobs 
More jobs

Video Gallery

Wattbike
The choice of the elite. Wattbike introduced the first true indoor bike in 2008, changing indoor cycling forever. Developed in association with world class coaches and athletes, and now chosen by the world’s premier health clubs, cycling studios, and personal trainers as well as universities, the military, and countless athletes and coaches across the world, Wattbike has truly revolutionised indoor cycling. Want to join our revolution? Power up your business with Wattbike.
Visit website
More videos

Company profile

Company profile: Precor
For more than 35 years, Precor has driven fitness forward. We continue that heritage every day, by advancing what’s possible in design innovation, member experience and service.
View full profile >
More company profiles

Featured Supplier

Harlands Effect: Make Your Business More Profitable
Harlands Group is a membership management service for health and fitness operators, which interacts directly with members to effectively manage membership payments.
View full details >
More featured suppliers

Diary dates

10-12 Dec 2019
tbc, Fort Lauderdale, United States
21-23 Jan 2020
Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate, United Kingdom
28-30 Jan 2020
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
29-30 Jan 2020
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, San Francisco, United States
More diary dates