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“Comfortable,” “family,” “communicate” and “collaborative” are just a handful of the words continuously repeated when asking health club professionals about their ideal work environment. All of these components go hand-in-hand in developing upbeat and engaged employees.
In his book, “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” John C. Maxwell explains how a positive work atmosphere increases the energy level among employees, and as a result, adds to productivity. “When you invest time and effort to get to know people and build good relationships, it actually pays off with greater energy once the relationships are built,” said Maxwell. “And in that kind of positive, energetic environment, people are willing to give their best because they know the leaders want the best for them.”
So, how can you create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and put their best foot forward? The first step begins with hiring the right people for the perfect positions. Ensure that each potential employee fits within your company culture and values the job they are about to assume.
“Our selection process is geared at hiring talented individuals who have a passion for health and fitness and who also truly enjoy the jobs that they are selected to fill,” said Janine Williams, the vice president of human resources at Leisure Sports. “We select individuals who have a high inclination for working well within a team setting, and who are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in regardless of their position within the company.”
According to Mark de Gorter, the chief operating officer at WORKOUT ANYTIME, the company strives to hire candidates who embody the three I’s: integrity, an “I can do” attitude and intelligence. “Sometimes that is something that doesn’t come through on the resume,” said Gorter. “Oftentimes, the weaker resumes deliver more on the three I’s, so we make sure that we vet team members, and in most cases, we are better off in the long term.”
Once you have developed an impeccable team, it is crucial to make each and every employee feel valued. According to Chez Misko, the chief operating officer at Wisconsin Athletic Clubs, this can be a challenging task. “It is more of a feeling that you have to develop rather than a step-by-step process,” he explained. “You have to make a conscious decision that you want to create an environment that is conducive for people to feel important. If people know they are important, then they feel better about doing the job that they need to do.”
An essential step in helping employees feel valued is encouraging their ideas. Misko suggested listening to feedback that employees may have and trying to implement it. This helps foster the notion that each employee matters and can make an impact in the business.
Another crucial element to cultivating a positive work environment is teamwork. No one wants to come to work everyday when they dislike the people they work with. Strive to foster a sense of teamwork and respect among employees. “By cross training our employees, they learn the value of other positions within the organization and gain a better understanding as to how they all work collectively together to deliver exceptional service,” added Williams.
Ultimately, having a team that feels like a family goes a long way in contributing to employee satisfaction. “We encourage our employees to establish friendships with other employees throughout the organization by providing them with opportunities to spend time together in recreational and social settings,” continued Williams. “Once they view the organization as their family, they are willing to help their co-workers in whatever manner needed.”
Misko agreed that developing this sense of community and family among team members is essential to the success of any company. “We really strive to make an extended family type feeling here at our clubs, where people feel comfortable to say what they want or to interact and communicate together as a team,” he said. “It is important to create an environment where people feel comfortable and confident.”
Of course, a little positive feedback never hurts in boosting employee engagement and morale. “We communicate how important their jobs are by sharing the stories of our members so that they know they are responsible for making a difference in the lives of those that we serve everyday,” said Williams.
Working with all employees to develop career goals is another great way to get employees excited to come to work. Assisting them in working toward a larger, long-term goal is key. “We manage here based on the vital few, as opposed to the meaningless many,” said Gorter. “We will set forth our vital few objectives for the year and each of the team members has their own vital few goals that match up with the overall company vision. Then quarterly we will reconnect and make sure we are still progressing along those lines and working to achieve every person’s goals.”
Finally, the key to engaged employees includes having fun. Work is commonly defined as labor, operative activity, a place of employment and a means of earning a livelihood. But this doesn’t mean work can’t be fun as well.
“One of our company beliefs is that we value hard work and time always to play, and we seek to balance the two in the lives of our employees,” explained Williams. “While we expect them to give 110 percent on the job, we also provide many ways for them to engage in fun activities, whether it be through wellness challenges, award luncheons, employee appreciation days or special perks and benefits.”