A Study of Public Park and Recreation Professionals’ Career Bridge Employment Intentions


  • Michael Mulvaney Illinois State University




Bridge Employment, Human Resource Development, Public Parks and Recreation, Recreation Management, Social Cognitive Theory


The number of professionals retiring from public parks and recreation agencies is increasing. This growing number of retirees raises significant challenges (and potential opportunities) for these agencies as they manage this loss of institutional capital. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while some professionals elect to pursue a traditional retirement route by transitioning from full-time employment to full-time retirement, a growing number are choosing to return to the workforce after they retire from their career jobs. Referred to as “bridge” employment experiences, these post-retirement jobs act as transitions between long-term career positions and total retirement. These bridge employment experiences have been found to range from part-time work, self-employment, and temporary employment to full-time employment. Despite these trends, little work has been done to explore the bridge employment phenomenon within the recreation profession. The purpose of this study was to explore possible predictors of public park and recreation professionals’ career bridge employment intentions. Social Cognitive Theory was selected as the theoretical framework for the study to determine the impact of three individual factors (financial preparedness, job satisfaction, physical health) and three environmental factors (social retirement anxiety, career attachment, and professional development opportunities) on career bridge employment intentions. Two hundred and twenty-seven public park and recreation professionals who anticipated retiring within the next 10 years and were currently employed on a full-time basis completed an online survey that was used to measure the variables of interest. Analyses indicated career bridge employment intentions were influenced by professionals’ financial preparedness, social retirement anxiety, career attachment, and professional development opportunities. Interestingly, job satisfaction and physical health perceptions were not found to significantly impact career bridge employment intentions. Overall, the findings suggest that there is a career transition and socialization process that arises as professionals near the retirement phase of their career. The study’s findings identified a few areas of concern and/or opportunities for professionals and their agencies. First, professionals who perceived to be less financially prepared for retirement or who had anxieties about disrupting long-standing friendships and support networks within the workplace were more likely to pursue bridge employment. Secondly, the findings suggest that professionals with stronger career attachment and who were more pleased with the quality and quantity of professional development opportunities were more interested in bridge employment. Subscribe to JPRA





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