To run an event you need people. People to take money at the gates, people to make sure drivers park their trucks and cars where they are supposed to and even people to clean up afterwards. But - the more people you have, the bigger your problem.
Organising and managing staff for anything but the smallest event could be a significant task. The following sections offer some advice and guidance on selecting, organising and managing event staff.
The right people
Staff are a critical component of your event. The smallest primary school event can probably be arranged and run by a couple of teachers in their spare time and other than a little help from the caretaker will probably need no additional staff input. Most events, especially where fundraising or profit is the main objective, will have considerable staffing requirements, because to generate high financial returns, you have to attract and deal with large numbers of people.
Your staff members will need specific skill sets and experience to be able to perform their tasks safely and effectively. They will also need suitable and effective supervision and management. Some staff may even need specialist clothing and equipment, or special training in the tasks assigned. As event manager you will be responsible for organising that.
What staff are required?
There are many questions you need to answer regarding your staff. What skills do want for this event? What staff do you have to have to safely run your event? How many staff do we require?
Your event is unique, so some potential staffing options may or may not apply. The staff you need depends on your specific aims, event objectives, event type, specialist requirements, risks and dangers common to your event. Do you need a qualified football referee, or a veterinary surgeon, or perhaps a reindeer herder? Only you can answer that question!
Defining the number of staff required isn’t ‘rocket science’. For example, deciding on the number of gate staff you need depends on the number of public gates you have! But it can be a little more complicated than that. How long are the gates going to be staffed? Do you need one person or several at each gate? Will they be working shifts? Do you need extra cover for sickness? Will refreshment and rest breaks need to be covered? Who could you call on if the gate person was dealing with an emergency? If there is an emergency at a gate, or somewhere else on site what emergency staff do you need to have? How will they get to the site of the incident? The further you look into the ‘what if questions the more complicated the task becomes.
For most general events, the roles/job types required can be drawn from the example list below. Depending on the size of the event, some of these duties and responsibilities may either be separate jobs for individuals with the appropriate skills and experience, or for smaller events several responsibilities may be combined within the job description of one suitably skilled person.
You will see that in the list below, I have included a breakdown of some of the duties/tasks assigned to each role. These may be organised and managed by one person, or for very large events, each sub task may be delegated to a different suitably skilled person.
For example there may be a deputy event manager with responsibility for traffic management and another deputy event manager responsible for accommodation, where responsibility for accommodation is subdivided into tents, Portakabins™ and furniture.
Remember that one person may take responsibility for a particular segment of the arrangements, or the individual duties may be delegated to different people with particular knowledge of tents or furniture etc. It all depends on your event size, objective and scope, and the skills, knowledge, experience and availability of your staff.
Standard jobs and responsibilities
- Event Manager (one and only one – all roles below report to the event manager who alone has the authority to make decisions)
- Deputy Event Manager (as many as needed)
- Local Authority Liaison
- Emergency Services Liaison
- Health and Safety Executive Liaison
- Site Planner
- Staff recruiting
- Staff scheduling
- Staff supervision
- Staff/work roster
- Site/Route Marshal
- Plans and control site layout
- Directs arrival and set-up of attractions
- Plans and locate toilets and other facilities
- Manages problems during the event
- Manages strip down after event
- Cash security – liaise with cashiers/marshal etc.
- Overnight cash security
- Oversee control of ‘valuables’ e.g. tickets/prizes
- Perimeter security
- Gate security
- Fire security – watch for fires and dangerous acts
- Beer tent security
- Night site security
- Electricity (mains or generator)
- Ticket Sales
- Ticket purchase/printing
- Pre-event sales
- Day of event gate sales
- Cashier’s office (bag and count income)
- Cashier make outgoing payments
- Cash collectors (circuit of site taking cash to cashier’s office for counting and bagging)
- Moving people
- Moving money
- Moving equipment
- Traffic Manager
- Car Parks
- Roving Car Park Supervisor
- Gate Controller
- Parking Charge Collector
- Car Park Marshals (teams)
- Car Park Security Patrol
- Site cleanliness
- Toilets and attendant (if not organised by supplier)
- Food waste
- Supplies Officer (may be included as part of other jobs)
- Toilet rolls
- Air freshener
- Charity cash-collecting buckets
- Gate tickets
- Black bin bags for litter collectors
- Gloves for cleaners and litter pickers
- Etc. etc. etc.
- Fireworks Liaison
- Safety Manager
- Animal welfare and movement
- First aid/medical services
As can be seen from the list above, a wide variety of different skills could be required to manage and run your event. The range of duties that need to be filled means that most events will need to find and employ some staff. In a sizeable event, you will require a considerable number of staff with a variety of different skills and those staff members must be located, hired, organised, scheduled, controlled, possibly trained, briefed, managed and most important of all – available at the right time and place.
Make a note that some of the decisions you make here may complicate your staff management and scheduling problems even further.
List the roles
You must identify and list all of the roles/job titles that you need to fill. Don’t forget that the list of roles above is a guide only and that specialist events will probably need specialist roles that are not listed here. For example a shooting event may require safety officers, weapons officers and range officers. An animal show will probably require the presence of a vet and perhaps a blacksmith/farrier. Does a racing pigeon show need a meteorologist to check the weather conditions and confirm that winds and an approaching storm front are favourable for a release? You know your event, target audience and requirements, so you must compile a list of necessary roles and staff.
Define the numbers
When you know the roles you have to fill you need to know how many of each role you will require, for example ‘gateperson’ is a role, but you will require as many gatepeople as you have gates, plus some reserves.
Review the roles against staff you have available. Bearing in mind the size of your proposed event and the work involved, you also have to decide if roles can be combined into one job description for a suitably qualified member of staff, or if perhaps a single role needs to be shared and so requires two job descriptions. For example, though there are common elements to their jobs, the morning gateperson has different responsibilities to the afternoon gateperson. The morning gateperson concentrates on arrivals and taking money, while the afternoon gateperson probably focuses on getting people off the site when the event closes.
Remember that at this stage your event planning is still a work in progress and requests and advice from the authorities may require you to revisit this task to define new roles, merge roles, or simply drop roles.
Reviewing the list of necessary roles and knowing the size and scope of your show, you can allocate those roles to different jobs. Thus, for your specific event the two roles of ‘traffic manager’ and ‘roving car park supervisor’ may be combined into one role ‘transport manager.
I suggest that appropriate supervisors should define and write an extended job description for each role before moving on to the next.
For each role/job you need to fill you should generate a job description. Defining a job description will take some thought and familiarity with your proposed event objective, requirements/classifications, attractions and site.
When I am defining staff requirements I compile an ‘extended’ job description, which has four parts:
- a person specification,
- a job description (list of tasks required in that role),
- a training schedule, and
- an equipment schedule.
The person specification
The person specification is simply a list of the abilities, skills and experience that an applicant must have to fill a given job. It is a ‘shopping list’ of attributes that will help you to select a suitable candidate for the role. You might for example specify that a car park marshal needs the following attributes:
- a mature and sensible person,
- previous car park marshal experience if possible,
- if not experienced, available/willing to train before the event,
- healthy, active and able to stand for at least 4 hours at a time,
- good eyesight with or without glasses,
- willing to work in any weather,
- strong willed and able to deal with conflict.
The person specification allows you to plan and propose the attributes required for given job. For some roles you may need to specify some attributes as mandatory and others as simply desirable. Depending on the candidates available, you may have to employ somebody who does not have all of the attributes required. If you do, you have an obligation to introduce training and closer monitoring and supervision as control measures to reduce or remove any risk associated with employing them.
Note: Remember that this is an illustration only – you must define your job descriptions based on your own unique event and requirements.
The job description
Next you have to define the role. To follow through with our car park marshal example above, the job might be described as follows:
- A uniformed role – where the marshal has to wear a reflective jacket and perform physically demanding traffic control and direction for up to two hours at a time in all weathers.
- The marshal will guide and control moving vehicles by use of clear hand and arm movements as will be demonstrated and practised during the familiarisation/training course to be held on 25th July at 1400hrs at the club house.
- The marshal will be required to see coloured badges fixed inside the windscreen of approaching cars and then direct them to the appropriate entrance and parking area (so must not be colour blind).
- Working shifts of either 0800hrs to noon, noon to 1600hrs, or 1600hrs to 210hrs as directed or agreed.
- Working in accordance with their training, in small teams or independently, away from supervision and using their own initiative.
- Informing the roving car park supervisor of any problems, including lack of space in the car park in use, persons reporting lost cars and anything that may cause damage or is a risk to members of staff or the public.
- Where required to do so, remaining as car park monitor when a car park is declared full. While doing so to maintain order in the car park, ensure that late arrivals park safely, in designated areas and act as an additional car park security patrol.
- Where required to do so, transferring at the request of the roving car park supervisor to direct traffic in any new or overflow car park that is opened.
- At all times to act in a manner that promotes the safety and security of themselves and everyone else.
The training schedule
Excluding the detailed briefing they will receive before they begin their shift, this lists the training the candidate may need if they do not already have the desired experience. For our car park marshal this may be:
- the selection and wearing of protective and visible clothing,
- the use and construction of a portable traffic direction sign,
- the clear and efficient direction of traffic by recognised and standardised hand signals as illustrated in the highway code,
- the identification and classification of vehicle passes and badges issued to different people attending the event and their access rights,
- the safe and efficient use of an event radio,
- the collection and storage of cash from car park fees,
- familiarisation with the risk assessments related to the job, and
- familiarisation with normal and emergency procedures related to the job and to the appropriate risk assessments.
Though the member of staff should be trained in the skills required to perform their job and be fully briefed, they should also be supplied with some documentation. They need a copy of their job description (required tasks), training and equipment schedules, site maps and the clothing and equipment required to do the job.
The equipment schedule
This schedule should list any equipment that is required by the candidate to perform the role. For the car park marshal the list would include:
- a portable vehicle direction sign,
- a reflective jacket,
- a secure money-collection container,
- cash float,
- a torch and or floodlights,
- emergency sign making equipment,
- relevant emergency procedures,
- a site map, and
- an event radio (one per gate).
Event manager’s manual
Where possible I create a reference sheet for each job, collating the person specification, job description, training schedule and the equipment schedules together.
There will be a reference sheet for each job/role and copies of all job reference sheets will be retained in the event manager’s manual.