Recreational Services part-time employee assessment project

Story by Allison Hursh - Recreational Services and Teri Schnelle - Office of the Vice President for Student Life

In fall of 2013, Recreational Services began discussing the need to evaluate wages of their part-time hourly employees. Part-time hourly employees, typically students, make-up the majority of campus recreational department employees across the country, and they work in positions ranging from ID checkers to lifeguards to intramural officials and many more. Recreational Services employs upwards of 500 part-time staff, so any changes to compensation methods would affect many individuals. To inform decisions, Recreational Services gathered information on pay structures and practices from recreational departments at other institutions and the local community.

To get the process started, 24 institutions were selected. All Big Ten institutions were surveyed along with the other two major institutions within the state of Iowa and several other institutions across the country that were similar in undergraduate enrollment. Additionally, Recreational Services reached out to Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty to obtain local information for comparison. Once the comparison groups were identified, the information Recreational Services was looking for from these institutions was developed based on current job descriptions and wages, as well as the long term goals of the project. A Qualtrics survey was created to gather information.

An invitation to participate in the project was sent to the recreational department directors of each institution. It included detailed information on the project, the Qualtrics link, and deadline for the information to be collected. In total, 20 institutions responded, an 83% response rate. Data from the local community recreation departments was collected using research and person to person contact. The data was analyzed and reports were created outlining pay structures and practices across institutions and the local community as well as comparisons to UI Recreational Services.

As Recreational Services moves into the future, the data will be used to develop different job codes based on varying job responsibilities and training requirements for the many different positions within the department. Additionally, the rationale of pay raises for all employees will be re-evaluated to determine whether performance based raises will be used instead of, or in addition to, the current longevity based raise. These changes will have a profound effect on students and hopefully the employee retention rate. Expected changes will begin as Recreational Services transitions into the new fiscal year, but all are considered positive improvements to the compensation of part-time employees.