Golf Course News

Experts urge clubs to tackle turnover problems

Experts urge clubs to tackle turnover problems

Hubbard, David

Editorial Focus: Hiring

By 2006, the hospitality industry will need to add 20 million more workers to cover the anticipated growth – the highest projected for all major industries over the next 10 years.

The search for new employees to effectively handle the growth illuminates another issue, how to manage existing employee turnover rates.

Speaking at the National Golf Course Owners Association Conference (NGCOA) in Phoenix in January, human resources specialfists, John Sibbald, president of John Sibbald & Associates, an executive search firm based in St. Louis, Mo., and Catherine Gustafson, Ph.D., University of South Carolina, cited the more significant problems and offered a few solutions.

“Reducing turnover is critical as the losses can be enormous and are both tangible and intangible,” said Gustafson. “Left unchecked, it can cause the loss of consistency and uniformity in the delivery of a business’ products and services, the potential for poor customer service, lost sales, a lowered perception of managerial effectiveness, as well as the time lost in filling vacant positions.”

When the employee turnover rate becomes inordinate to the normal flow of workers iri and out of a facility, Sibbald encourages business owners and managers to take a more pro-active approach to determine a reasonable and effective turnover rate for their particular operations.


According to Sibbald and Gustafson, the first step is to differentiate between voluntary and involuntary turnover, and to understand who leaves and why.

“While employees should be regarded as assets rather than expenses, some positions should simply not be regarded as permanent,” said Gustafson. “It is often more cost effective to allow employees in easily filled positions to move out or up. As for the truly standout employees, promoting from within allows management to create opportunities which in turn reduce the turnover rate.”

Sibbald and Gustafson noted that for the great number of seasonal golf club operations, retaining trained and experienced help is particularly aggravating. They suggested that owners be creative in their incentives and recognition programs to encourage their best employees to return.

Hiring the right person for the job at the onset is, of course, the best means to control the turnover rate. In times of employee shortages, managers pressed for time can easily get a little careless in the selection process. Sibbald and Gustafson reiterated the dangers of “labor crisis management” that involves little more than quick interviews without careful reference checks.

“Simply filling positions with warm bodies can lead to the problems that plague the industry, ” said Sibbald. “Hired in a crisis mode, new employees are not properly introduced to the company, and usually receive only minimal training, creating the situations that lead to their quitting or being involuntarily dismissed.”

Copyright United Publications, Inc. Mar 2002

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