Human resource management is a pivotal element in the event industry. Every event has their own unique human resource needs, and it is the job of the human resource department to ensure that the event has the right number, types and skill mix of employees at an appropriate time and cost to meet present and future requirements. The use of volunteers is an integral part in the establishment and execution of many events, and their work can generally be seen as a major contribution to the success of an event. Often the commitment of event volunteers tends to be of short term, and due to the pulsating organisational structure of events, volunteers can often comprise the success of an event due to lack of commitment. To ensure the successful creation and retention of a volunteer program/team, human resource management must establish strategies in which volunteers are correctly sourced, trained, controlled, supervised and motivated to contribute to the event. With reference to the Sydney Festival this essay will discuss various strategies used and issues associated with the employment, training, policies, communication, and motivation of volunteers in the event context.
The Sydney Festival is an annual event (occurring every January) that ‘transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas’ (Arts NSW, 2014), offering a broad range of free and ticketed events. The vision of the event is to welcome the residents of the city and its visitors to experience a festival that defines Sydney’s personality. The Sydney Festival’s Volunteer Program is managed in conjunction with Eventeamwork, offering volunteers a unique experience to work on a major international arts festival that involves many artists from many countries. According to Mr. Corey Zerna, Head Assistant of the Sydney Festival ‘the Festivals reliance on volunteers has increased dramatically over the past five years with the broadening of its program attracting increased audiences’.
Effective staff management is essential to ensuring an event runs smoothly and efficiently, and that the right employees are in the right positions. Event managers need to make decisions regarding the balance between paid workers, volunteers and contractors, and when in the event planning process these staff and volunteers will be needed. Calculation of requirements for these various categories of staff is often complex, requiring analysis of the requirements of each event element; generally by assessing the events work breakdown structure. It has been implied that two techniques are use for forecasting the labour demand; ‘managerial judgment – previous events or personal experience of managers, and work study – which is more specific’ and mathematical (Yeoman, at el. 2004). According to Mr. Zerna, the Sydney Festivals Volunteer Program uses a mix of both techniques. Each head of department nominates how many volunteers they think they will need over the course of the Festival, this number is then reviewed by Eventeamwork where they calculate how many volunteer shifts are required taking into consideration how long shifts can/should be, and how many volunteers are required at any one time. Sydney Festival asks their volunteers to commit to a minimum of 4 shifts over the course of the Festival, so an approximate calculation on volunteers numbers is 25% of the total number of shifts.
Human resource planning involves the critical task of job analysis and developing a job description, involving ‘defining a job in terms of specific tasks and responsibilities and identifying the abilities, skills and qualifications needed to perform the job successfully’ (Allen at el. 2011, pp. 220). Creating a job description often results in a thought process that helps determine how critical the job is and identifies the characteristics needed, making the division between paid-staff and volunteers simple. For the Sydney Festival, Eventeamwork work