Lifeguard Appreciation: Celebrating and Motivating Your Lifeguards

by Ashley Ingram, University of Memphis

July 31 was International Lifeguard Appreciation Day. Using this special day to celebrate your hard-working staff this summer is a great way to say “thank you” for all they have done. As I looked through all of the Facebook posts and recent articles mentioning all the creative and fun ways different supervisors commemorated their staffs on that day, I wanted to take the time to summarize some of my favorite ways to say “thank you.”

If You Feed Them, They Will Come

From keeping popsicles in the freezer to having pizza delivered, nothing spreads the gratitude to our guards more than food! I love to splurge on Sonic slushies and pizza several times throughout the summer to show my appreciation to my staff. Last year we got the opportunity to participate in a cooking class as a team-building activity at the end of the summer and the guards had so much fun. This year we will be celebrating potluck-style with a Fiesta themed lunch!

Give Them Something to Show Off

Hats, Lanyards, Water bottles, Stickers, etc. are all things that they can use while they work, and are a great way to say thank you to your team. Have time to design a shirt or a bumper sticker that has your logo on it? It can double as a marketing tool for your facility as well as a great way to recruit new staff! My staff love games, especially with prizes, so this year at our end of the summer party, we will have some awesome “guard gear” items as our prizes, including sunglasses, sunscreen, new whistles, and even a beach towel (along with a few gift cards and lots of candy).

Keep It Simple

I once heard a speaker say that they sent their staff handwritten thank you cards. What a wonderful idea!  I wish I could say that I adopted that practice (unfortunately I cannot) BUT I do like to be present and say thank you as much as I can. I also make sure I write their birthdays on my calendar so I can do a shout out when the time comes. Letting your staff members know you care about them as a person and not just a slot on the schedule goes a long way. Make sure you take the time to acknowledge their successes on and off the clock.

It’s not just a day or a week; we need to have ongoing ways to show our team that we value them. Make sure to take the time to show your staff how much they are appreciated all year long! It’s because of them that we are able to have a successful and safe season at the pools.

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