Case Studies

How the Lake Elsinore Storm’s HR manager improved staff engagement

By Gustav Anderson

Nov. 22, 2021

In Lake Elsinore, California, baseball does more than simply entertain the local community – it also gives people the opportunity to chase their dreams. 

“I’m a big sports fan,” says a beaming Katie Strehlow, the HR manager for the Lake Elsinore Storm. “Once I graduated, I knew it would make a lot of sense to go work for a sports team because it’s something I’m interested in, something I’m passionate about.”

This passion is something she hopes to pass along to the 200 staff members she assists daily at the Storm’s stadium. A minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the Lake Elsinore Storm draw over 6,000 fans for every game. It takes careful coordination and execution to make sure all staff members perform their tasks up to customer standards. Together, they pursue a common dream: to bring to life one of the world’s most beautiful sporting atmospheres. 


CHALLENGE

While games unfold on the field and fans roar in the stands, Strehlow has her hands full behind the scenes making sure all staff members are engaged and productive. In the stadium, she oversees the success of a wide range of employee initiatives, including concessions, ticketing, and the grounds crew. 

“Everyone on our staff is essential to ensuring a good experience for our fans,” says Strehlow. “Everyone is important because every piece contributes to the bigger picture.”

To satisfy fans and achieve the bigger picture, Strehlow strives to keep her employees engaged and fulfilled in their work. For a long time, this required excessive paperwork and constant grappling with a disorganized workforce management system. Employee engagement was suffering as a result.

“Employee engagement is really important,” says Strehlow. “We need to make sure that our employees are happy so that they want to continue working here. So I do my best to communicate with the employees, make sure that they know me.”

Strehlow knew the team’s attendance and scheduling capabilities needed to be updated. She needed the ability to actively track where staff were during games, as well as more tools for staff communication and feedback. She also required access to metrics that would help her pinpoint where burnout or lack of engagement was occurring. 

“We want to make sure that our employees are working the appropriate amount of time so that they don’t get tired. Especially in this type of environment,” says Strehlow. “There’s a lot of moving parts … if employees aren’t up to their peak, they might perform badly.”


SOLUTION

All of Strehlow’s staff were brought into Workforce.com, making it easier for her to organize and engage with them on a daily basis. The updated system eliminated time spent on manual data entry, allowing Strehlow to focus on improving employee engagement and performance. She can quickly schedule staff, check their attendance, and view engagement metrics on the go as she runs throughout the stadium during games. 

“I use Workforce.com every single day, basically constantly,” says Strehlow. “I am always checking on schedules, making sure that we have the right people in the right places … as someone in HR, it is very helpful to have all of that live data right in my hand.”


RESULTS

By overhauling the fundamentals of their workforce management system, the Lake Elsinore Storm succeeded in bolstering both customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Here are some of the ways in which Strehlow and the team as a whole experienced success:

Visibility into employee experience

Staff use Workforce.com’s feedback tool to rate and review their shifts. “I definitely read all of those through very carefully to find out what we’re doing well, what we can improve on,” says Strehlow. Consistently receiving feedback on shifts helps her identify engagement problems early before they become major issues.

“I prefer getting feedback every day from employees so that I know that we don’t have problems that are brewing … if there’s a minor fix that I can take care of that day or maybe that week, I know that we’re better set up down the road.”

Increased customer engagement

Perhaps most importantly, the Lake Elsinore Storm are experiencing a major boost in sales following their partnership with Workforce.com. In 2019, every fan on average spent between $24-$25 per game between parking, ticketing, retail, and food and beverage. That figure has since doubled, with the average fan now spending $47-$48 at games. 

Less time spent on administrative tasks

With all her staff operating on Workforce.com, Strehlow no longer finds herself chained to her desk slaving away at time-consuming administrative tasks. “You’re more likely to find me out interacting with the staff where they’re working. Being able to use my phone to check on things as I’m going is very helpful and makes a big difference.”

The software handles all timekeeping and scheduling matters, allowing Strehlow to engage with her staff in person while keeping an eye and a finger on things right from her phone.

Simple shift replacement

With Workforce.com’s shift replacement tool, Strehlow and her staff can post open shifts that need to be claimed. When an employee requests to take the shift, all Strehlow needs to do is tap her finger to approve the replacement. “I can go with, see who’s not available for a shift and who is available to pick it up and don’t have to worry about reaching out to people. It’s all right there.”

Best of all, the functionality significantly increases staff engagement and motivation. “I know that if somebody selects a shift that they’re actually going to be here and do a good job because they made that decision to come into work that day,” Strehlow says. 

Straightforward adoption

Onboarding staff to the new system proved tremendously easy, requiring very little time and effort in getting people comfortable using the array of user-friendly tools. 

“They were excited to use an app. They jumped on it right away, download it and use it daily now. So, it was easy,” says Strehlow. 


The Lake Elsinore Storm are knocking it out of the park now with fan experience, and it all comes back to how Strehlow brings the best out of her staff.

“I need them to be energetic and enthusiastic so that they can help make the fans energetic and enthusiastic,” she says. “That actually can affect the performance on the field.”

For Strehlow and the Storm, a winning culture on the field requires a winning culture in the workplace. Going forward, the team will continue to inspire productivity and passion in their sports-loving staff thanks to their mastery of workforce management.

Gustav is a communications officer with Workforce.com. His past work includes media outreach for a Guinness World Record team and market research published by the University of Maine. He has a keen interest in storytelling, frontline labor issues, and all things relating to pigeons.

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