A Study of the Role of Professional Development, Job Attitudes, and Turnover among Public Park and Recreation Employees


  • Kenneth R. Bartlett
  • William R. McKinney


Professional development, human resource development, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover, park and recreation management.


Professional development and voluntary turnover of employees are key issues for researchers and managers increasingly concerned with the recruitment, education, and development of the next generation of public park and recreation professionals. This paper considers the issue of professional development within a human resource development framework and explores the relationship of satisfaction with training and development opportunities and career development with intentions to turnover. The study considers both traditional turnover models that have used the widely studied work-related attitudes of organizational commitment and job satisfaction as well as the unfolding model of voluntary turnover. This new approach to understanding turnover seeks to identify shock events that lead towards decisions to leave. This study extended this theory to the public park and recreation setting in considering satisfaction with professional development as a potential shock event.Using data collected from 134 full-time managerial level employees of Illinois public park and recreation agencies, both qualitative and quantitative approaches are utilized to explore what events or circumstances would result in respondents feeling they should leave their current employer. Further analysis considers the relationship between measures of organizational commitment and job satisfaction, professional development, and intention to turnover. Results show that while the majority of respondents felt they had adequate opportunities for training and development, many are concerned with a lack of guidance offered by their supervisors for career development. A relatively low number of respondents expressed intentions to turnover. Significant correlations were found between organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and satisfaction with professional development opportunities.The findings are discussed for their practical application to the development and management of human resources in public park and recreation agencies. The lack of professional development opportunities, and more specifically, supervisory support for career planning, are singled out for playing a potential role in the formation and maintenance of organizational commitment. Suggestions for future research on job attitudes, human resource development activities, and turnover are provided.