The key to an incredible summer? Communication. As camp and class professionals, we communicate with many different groups — from community members and boards to caregivers and participants. It’s our job to find out what works best for each group and to tailor our communication accordingly. Communicating with staff makes a huge difference for a smooth season. We have six staff communication tips and tricks that you can start on now to ensure success.
Gen Z staff members bring their whole selves to the workplace, and they respond best when supervisors acknowledge that and bring their whole selves right back. Building relationships with staff, getting to know what works for them and communicating in their preferred style will have the biggest impact. And speaking of communicating personally, written feedback may need to be a thing of the past. Inc.com cites that 72% of Gen-Zers prefer in-person communication.
With more and more “ghosting,” early communication is more important than ever. Help staff feel like part of the team by providing updates from the moment they’re hired — and not just about paperwork and mandatory trainings. Find ways to illuminate the hidden curriculum, include staff in decisions (take a staff poll on shirt colors, ask what ideas they have or include them other decisions or brainstorming sessions), and get them excited about your upcoming programs(share impact stories, send pictures of projects, etc.) and to build relationships.
Before your programs begin, directors need to find the right cadence: communicate too frequently and you lose them; not frequently enough and you lose them. You can talk to staff and get feedback on communication frequency to find out what’s best for them.
When staff are at camp, though, they want frequent communication. As part of the Inc.com article cited earlier, 40% of Gen-Zers expect daily feedback from supervisors on their performance. We’ve also seen at camps that staff want to feel ownership, and that means they want to be in the know. The camp rumor mill works quickly, and because staff members prefer to hear things directly from leaders, it’s important that we can communicate quickly and as needed (which is often!).
Let’s face it: Attention spans are at an all-time low. While there’s a laundry list of things we need to tell staff members, it’s not easy to hold their attention long enough to go over it all. Simplify everything and cut what you can.
Find methods of communication that work for you and your team, and use them over and over and over. Creating repeatable systems of communication helps make your programs run smoothly. In addition to the methods in which communication, think through what you’re communicating, and be consistent in that. It’s probably not sustainable to hold an all-staff meeting every time a participant goes home, so don’t do it the first week then discontinue. Have a plan for what will be communicated and how, and take it a step further by letting staff members know how/when you’ll communicate different situations.
There are so many communication channels that so many camp professionals have tried — from emails and texts to group chats and more. Some may be default (and preferred by HR for some things), but these can work in tandem with out-of-the-box ideas that will help your staff remember. Need to distribute the staff manual? Send out a quick video with it that highlights the most important parts and gives basic information on what else is in there and how staff can use it.
Try creating a private Instagram account that staff members can follow. Before the program begins, post reminders, updates, polls, questions or other interactive or relevant information. During the session, you can post schedules, changes or updates, cabin/group lists and more. You can change the name and check the followers year to year, so you don’t have to start from scratch each time. You can also consider using TikTok! A staff account can be used to recruit staff, entertain existing employees and provide important communication.
BONUS: Check Your Communication
Ultimately, all of our staffs are different, and what works one year or for one camp or program may not work every time or for every emplooyee. Checking in with your staff members to get their opinions on the communication is the best way to be successful. Ask about clarity, ease of use, other things they need, ideas they have and more to ensure everyone's needs are being taken care of and everything is being communicated in the best way possible.
ACTIVE Network Is Here to Help
At ACTIVE, we help camps and classes across the country stay top of mind among their audiences and grow year after year with seamless, easy-to-use program management software. Once we learn a bit more about your program, we can connect you with a software specialist to find the perfect technology for your unique needs. Whether you need day camp registration software to cut down on processing time or a more focused solution to generate revenue, our experts are here for you.
Get started today to take your camp or class to the next level — this year and beyond!