Sarah Worrell is the General Manager at Kentucky Kingdom. Sarah has been with Herschend Entertainment for more than 10 years, getting her start with the company in Denver running human resources for Elitch Gardens. Sarah has been in the attractions industry for all of her professional career, with experience at Paramount Parks, Six Flags, Hard Rock Park, and Herschend Family Entertainment. In this interview, Sarah talks about employee recruitment and retention, developing employees, and leading with love.
Recruitment and Retention
“The guest experience mixed in with the employee experience is where we have focused our efforts.”
There’s many elements within the employee experience that are often overseen and are thought of as normal or standard. However, behind the scenes, the structure of the employee experience is critical to the operation and sustainability of a park.
The employee requires support to get going, and that involves items like training and more complex items such as guidelines and regulations. When revising this system or building it from the ground up, it’s important to maintain a good, stable employee experience to additionally support the guest experience.
“You have to be okay knowing that you will develop a person to take their talents somewhere else, but shouldn’t stop you from developing them in the moment.”
Employees don’t join a company they don’t believe in. It’s important to make sure that the employee leaves a stronger, better person than when they got onboarded. No company wants a stagnant employee, and no employee wants a stagnant company. It’s important to keep streams of inspiration flowing to encourage growth and development on both sides.
Many people have been personally inspired by experiences while working in the attractions industry, and that’s what keeps the consistent love and innovation pouring into the community. Somebody may have joined with the intention of staying for a summer, but instead stayed for a lifetime. By being that source of inspiration, you can take employees to the next level and have more passionate people in the industry.
Leading With Love
“We want them to understand what it means to be a patient, kind, truthful, trusting, humble, forgiving, dedicated leader.”
Being a leader means being a leader worth following. By showing compassion and empathy, employees will look up to you and realize that you do truly care about their work and meaning to the company. Taking initiative with your employees and making sure that you have an open stream of communication allows for ideas to be shared, employees to be developed, and guests to be satisfied.
Showing initiative and being prepared for your employees also shows your level of commitment to the people who keep your park operating. Keeping the professional appearance while also keeping them aware of your commitment to them is a recipe for success and shows the employees how much you truly care.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Branding and design by Fabiana Fonseca
- Summary by Mason Nichols
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