David Ward, a caravan industry legal expert at Blacks Solicitors LLP, discusses how to recognise good service, motivate and reward staff at a park.
“Being well organised, legally compliant and incentivising staff at your park will lead to a productive and loyal work force. There are a number of ways a park operator can ensure employees are happy and enjoying their work.”
“It is essential that all parks have a staff induction and training process. This ensures that an employee begins their employment correctly, knowing what the business is about and their role within it. If an employer has a clear record of spending time training its employees, this will help them in the event their performance dwindles or a claim is issued. Employers will have the ability to demonstrate they acted appropriately in providing all of the information required for an employee to carry out their role to an acceptable standard. In addition, all staff need to be provided with an employment contract, including a staff handbook with appropriate policies within it and this should be provided at the outset of their employment. It is also an excellent strategy to keep personnel files for each employee, recording absence levels, holidays, training records and any performance issues. Absence can occur for a multitude of reasons but failure to keep a record can lead to serious illness or disability being missed by an employer.”
“With many parks being family run it’s important to maintain a cohesive team. No employee will be motivated to work hard after spending the day hearing the management team arguing. Mutual respect throughout the workplace is key to running a happy ship. Using appropriate communication is important when keeping staff happy. Don’t just use emails or letters when corresponding with your employees, make sure you speak to them regularly in person to ensure nothing is misread. Appraisals can play an integral role in staff development. Employers ought to meet with their employees every 6-12 months to agree targets, talk about successes and failures and where the business is heading. Employers who operate a transparent forum for employees to give feedback and share ideas are often those who find and retain loyal, well-motivated employees rather than those who practice an ‘us and them’ type mentality.”
Minimum wage, minimum effort
“When it comes to wages, pitch fees don’t count towards minimum wage. Informal arrangements with park wardens who work occasionally in return for a pitch fee can sometimes turn sour and at the end of the day, failure to pay minimum wage can be a criminal offence. It is fair to say that unskilled labour is not going to warrant an incredibly generous wage, however employment benefits and recognition of hard work is not all about wages. Employees should be rewarded for loyalty and going above and beyond their remit. Remember that small gestures go a long way when it comes to staff (this can include a bonus or an end of season meal out/awards presentation).”