Seasonal employers on the hunt to fill vacant positions

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/16/2021 1:53:51 PM

Peterborough Recreation Director Lisa Betz is concerned about the summer and she has every reason to be.

“We are hurting for staff and I’ve talked to many recreation departments that are in the same boat,” Betz said. “We have at least one positions in every area that needs to be filled.”

That includes summer playground staff, lifeguards and maintenance, and in many cases that number is more than just one.

“I need to hire a lot of people this year,” she said.

She has received a number of inquiries, but most of them are too young for the jobs that are open.

“We’re not really getting anything in the older high school, younger college age,” Betz said.

Betz said COVID did not help at all because of the way the department was forced to host its summer program and operate both Adams Pool and Cunningham Pond last year. For the summer of 2020, she only had openings for seven lifeguards, where the year before her roster was upwards of 18 to 20. She said of the seven, four are coming back, but that leaves her with about 15 to hire between now and when the swimming locations open in June.

“We’re desperately in need of lifeguards,” Betz said. “We have several months, but we need the staff for that.”

She also must hire eight more to run the two bath houses.

Betz said if she can’t find enough lifeguards and support staff for the pool and pond it may affect how the season is run.

“We’re going to have to do abbreviated hours if we don’t have the staff,” she said.

As for the playground program, she only has two returning.

“We need to get the word out that people need to apply,” Betz said.

In all her years with Peterborough Rec, Betz said she has never seen something like this. Typically, they are able to bring back enough staff that they only have a few spots to fill at the lower end of the age group and those ones stick around year after year and the cycle continues.

“This year we don’t have them coming back because we didn’t have them last year,” she said.

Lisa Hunt, manager of Kimball Farm in Jaffrey, said last year’s decisions on the hiring front have led to more difficulties filling positions this year.

She said when you hold off on hiring people “there’s always those people that you lose” to other jobs. Entering last season, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 made her not hire as many people. And even though business “turned out to be phenomenal” last year, Hunt said, there was no way she could have predicted it would be that way last March and April during the hiring season.

“We actually ended up having a busier year than we anticipated,” Hunt said. “The whole to-go, eating outside was made for us. And I would anticipate that we’re going to be just as busy.”

As of early last week, Hunt said, “I’d love to find another solid dozen people.” She said there are about 30 employees coming back, but that won’t be enough to fully staff the operation through the season. Hunt said they can borrow employees from other Kimball locations “but that’s not a permanent fix.”

In an effort to entice more people to apply, Kimball Farm bumped up wages and Hunt said “hopefully that will help.” They have been advertising anywhere possible and she’s “digging deep for anyone whose ever worked for me.”

But with opening day scheduled for Thursday, she knows it may be a little bit chaotic to start.

“I’m optimistic because I feel like to a certain extent every year it’s like ‘do we have enough people?’” Hunt said.

And she knows she is not alone in the employee search.

“Everyone has had to scramble,” she said.

And with summer only a few months away, finding employees is a necessity to operate.


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