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Does it Pay to be a Groundsperson

by TurfCareBlog

Does it pay to be a groundsperson is a blog in response to GMA newly published pay recommendations and how this may look on the on the ground, based on a community poll results below. 

poll results

The aim of this blog is to ask as many questions as it answers, l certainly don’t claim to have the answers, but here are some thoughts. 

Are we being paid enough as Groundspersons and what can we do about it?

We have done two social media polls on whether the groundspersons on the ground are being paid the GMA recommended rates as recommend, this was not taking into account extra pay for achieved qualification.

It appears the vast majority of us are by the GMA recommendations underpaid. Maybe the rates recommended are just a benchmark to aim for and standard to work to, so maybe should be a bit out of reach at present?

Or are the GMA recommendations just not realistic and this is reflected in only a third at best of groundspersons being paid anywhere near it. If we unpacked this further l believe there would be very few of us on the hight rates of the recommendations.

I don’t believe this problem is just in our industry but widespread across many industries. We all want a fairer pay; the question l guess is what we on fair?

Recruitment issues

Employers are struggling its plane to see, you can see that looking at the job listings pages, the same jobs keep coming up. 

We view our friends on social media platforms changing careers, even more hurtful when they are young and would have formed the next generation. 

Seen one employer increase their pay scale to a level l have not seen before, just to try entice some more worthy applicants at one of the UK top sports venues. Is this a sign of things to come or a one off?

Industry of both professional and volunteers!

Our industry is made up by a mix, with the majority being made up of tens of thousands of volunteers. These volunteers are probably doing it for the love as very few are even paid, or if so, it would be just beer money at most. 

These are made up of highly passionate people willing to work evenings and weekends and often putting their own safety at question, with poor machinery and little help with manual tasks.

They basically work for the passion to put something back into the sport, without them the pyramid of sport would collapse. There efforts and passion fuel us all.

But is this also taking something away from the professional groundsperson, with the majority of the industry working for free, is this watering down the mix and devaluing the groundsperson who has made it their career choice to make a profession out of it?

Is it their fault, no and without them as l say there would be no sport and no industry, we need more of them! What do we need to do then?

cutting the square

Is it all about money?

I get the feeling it’s not all about being paid well, although we should as professional people get paid a fair wage and what is fair and recommended is set out by the GMA on our behalf.

We need to be offering a fair and attractive wage, to make our industry is appealing to the next generation coming through in the hope of trying to attract and retain. 

How we are viewed outside the industry!

I think how we are perceived is also massive, our job can be quite simple but when you unpack it there’s more to it than anyone outside the industry would ever think. Basic soil science and agronomy at its core and much more!

The wrong perception is we just cut grass, a grounds maintenance operative may or may not just cut grass, but we are professionals and it goes way deeper than that. 

Link – https://turfcareblog.com/its-only-cutting-grass-isnt-it/

How do we change this perception, is it possible?

It will take time, l think one person and club at a time where needed. We need to communicate our position better at times, but also knowing when to back down. 

Like most things it comes down to creating the change we want to see, by acting professional and seek training both professionally and in terms of self-development.

We got to back ourselves, we know we are skilled and we got to continue sell that in who we present ourselves to be. 

Savy well thought out report writing when requesting equipment and machinery will all help with this. 

Will this get us a pay rise, in some situations it will in others it won’t, but as a result we can then take on those skills to someone who will treat us better.

Working conditions!

With staff numbers often stretched and an expectancy of having to work many hours before and after games the hours can take a real toll on a groundsperson, especially those with families. 

This industry often requires a high level of commitment and dedication from us, this isn’t for everyone, but another reason we should be paid fairly. 

The GMA

Grounds Managers Association- statement on the recommendation and recommend pay increase for 2022

Link- https://turfmatters.co.uk/3-pay-rise-recommended-by-gma/

“With a stagnant economy riding the pressures of COVID-19, many industries are facing economic challenges, but our National Salary Framework is imperative to shaping the future of grounds management.

“But we can’t do this alone. We must all work together to educate those outside of our sector to help understand it’s value. 

Is it all just bad news?

Hard work sees fruit, if you’re willing to put in the hours and work your way up there’s career progression for most of us, even a chance to work at the very top of our profession. 

Standards are rising, UK groundsperson are seen as some of the best in the world and this will only increase if we continue to embrace new technologies and continue with a desire for improvement.

Support is there along with a community; we have an amazing support network across social media and peers along with associations and more. 

Pay is being discussed, there no hiding in the dark over this topic it’s brought up regularly across social media and other face to face communication. We aren’t alone in our concerns.

Apprenticeship work, the next generation is coming through and there is a government push. For me we need to see more apprentices pushed into our profession with the benefits of working in professional sports as the carrot. We have independent schools’ grounds teams brining through a number of groundswomen which is really encouraging. 

Its still a great industry, we get to work out doors, there’s something of a freedom to our job, compared to an indoor role. The job is very challenging at times but also very very satisfying. 

cutting the football pitch

Employers 

We all understand l hope as groundsperson the strain your club maybe under is real and relevant but employers offering free parking, a free uniform as benefits is sending out the wrong message. 

Training and loyalty bonuses along with a fair pay maybe a more fruitful and more sustainable way forward to retaining the very best people for your club. 

I hear of groundspersons leaving clubs they love and grew up with and support, out of feeling they have no other choice due to a low pay. Do employers really want these types of employees walking away, when it’s hard enough to retain the right sort of committed and dedicated staff.

What can we do about it?

Personal development and professional development, personally as an example to progress l need to take responsibility more, communicate better these are all things that will make me more professional. What can you do?

Educate employers, put up/pin GMA recommendations on your social media page, walls at work let it be known this is our ambition as an industry.

Encourage employers to pay for your GMA membership and use the training discounts. Be prepared for setbacks along the way, success is very rarely and straight upward motion.

Link- https://thegma.org.uk/

I’d like to see organisation and jobs listing pages come together and stop advertising listings far below the recommendation pay scale, this should at least be discussed collectively as on face value it looks wrong to the majority of working Groundspersons. Could this just force employers to omit salaries thought from job listings?

Continue to reflect what a professional look like elevating collectively what we do, why we do it. Knowing we won’t win every battle but aiming in time to take small steps forward. 

Pull together on important issues like this as individuals and organisations as being pushed by TurfPro.com editor Laurence Gale and myself. We all can benefit from a flourishing industry.

Summary 

Some are paid so low, that is not acceptable but on the whole employers are not all bad. We got to show we aren’t just another worker but we are skilled professionals that are a asset for the future of their club/businesses.

Is now the right time to ask for a pay rise, if you feel your underpaid?

Maybe not unless you’re really struggling, as with our rise in current living costs, employers are also facing the same challenges!

If you are really struggling also take a look at these free resources- https://perennial.org.uk/home/ways-we-can-help/

Only you know when or if the time is right, but if we can do nothing else we can at least try and take some positives steps forward as suggested in this blog.

Hang in there you/we are not alone, let’s stick together support each other and take this industry forwards we can’t just rely on the GMA to this, as they have said in the above statement. We can all play our part in the future of the industry. 

What are your own experiences, what are your own views on possible ways forward? Please let us know in the reply box below.

Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community.

Connect, share and learn individually and collectively

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4 comments

Steve February 17, 2022 - 8:50 am

See what Jeremy Clarkson has done for farming and farmers. Let’s do the same for groundsmen/ persons.
Get a celeb on board , on the tele, interviewed prior to matches with an apprentice in tow…At Wimbledon last time , every one was acknowledged at the final cup presentation, all except the grounds people. This has to change.

Reply
TurfCareBlog February 17, 2022 - 9:03 am

Even just the head groundsperson talking about the players who have graced the field etc . We have a great product to sell, conditions not always the best but certainly not all bad .

Reply

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