How To Effectively Manage Part-Time Event Staff

The Senior Premium Seating Manager at the United Center in Chicago shares her tips for managing part-time staff. She reviews everything from hiring, to scheduling, to something she's doing this year that's a little bit different.

  • Valerie Tanaka, United Center

 

Here are a few tips to keep your staff happy throughout the long NBA and NHL seasons:

Keep Staff Current

A lot of our staff, probably a quarter of our staff, has been here with us since the building opened, so they know the drill. But this building is really good at introducing new areas, new clubs, new parking lots even. So at the start of the season, we do a welcome back meeting to educate the people who have been with us one week, as well as educate the people who have been with us 24 years, so that they all know everything that's going on in the building. Just for example, if one of our clubs has a new naming rights partner, we want to make sure that they know the new name of the club, so they can direct guests to the right place.

Reward Staff Throughout the Season

One of the challenges we run into, as most buildings do, is that it's such a long season. By March or April, we're finding people aren't smiling as much, so our challenge is to get people smiling and welcoming guests in April as much as they were in September. So what we're going to do this year is something different. We're going to have a party for our staff in mid-season (as opposed to the end of the season) to bring everyone together, review some of the things that we go over at the start of the season, rehash what our goals are, and hopefully gear up for the playoffs.

Establish Scheduling Procedures

We have scheduling procedures that we make everyone sign at the start of the season that includes our rules and regulations with regards to call-offs and no-shows. We're pretty strict. We have everyone sign the scheduling procedures at the start of the season, and we hold them to it. So if someone has a no-show, they get a write-up. If they have multiple no-shows, they get a suspension. And beyond that, they are subject to be terminated. We find that we have to be consistent with all of our staff members, treat everyone the same, again whether they've been here one week or 20 years, and stick to those scheduling procedures.

Maintain Positive Culture

What helps keep our quality staff members coming back year after year is at the end of the day, this really is a fun place to work. We find that the crowds that come in for a Bulls game, they are very different from the Blackhawks crowds, from the Guns N' Roses crowds. It's something different every day. The staff members view each other as family, and even though it is a long season, we're all in it for the same reasons. We want to win a NBA Championship or the Stanley Cup. Thankfully, a few of us have been able to experience that during our time here.

Manage Staff Turnover

We have 40 part-time employees, and we have one part-time supervisor who oversees the staff during events. We do typically lose about ten of our concierge, which is the elevator operator position. So we hire about ten new suite concierge to start the season. And then once we get a good base of concierge, we do usually promote from within to the next position up, which is what we call a podium representative. A lot of our staff members are friends and family, who are hearing about the job from others, which helps us because then they know a little bit about it coming in, and we can educate them. They’re usually pretty good candidates if they're recommended by one of our current staff members.

Valerie Tanaka is the Senior Premium Seating Manager at United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

 

Tour the recent renovations at United Center, an extroverted design and developing trend in the venue marketplace.

 

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