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In 2016, Korn Ferry published a global study of CEO perceptions that found “a startling lack of top-leader focus on, or confidence in, the value of the people in their organizations, while they instead are putting a higher value on technology and tangible assets.”
In fact, according to the report, a company’s employees — or human capital — didn’t even make it into the ranking of “top five assets” for most CEOs.
Fitness Connection doesn’t fall into this group.
According to Phil Howard, the CEO of Fitness Connection, the amenities and technology offered at the brand’s high-value, high-volume locations are important. But they’re not the sole key to success.
“On our team it all starts with people, and I think what you will find coming into any Fitness Connection location is a very dedicated team,” said Howard. “Our teams are very hospitable and welcoming.”
In fact, Howard explained even the members see the value of Fitness Connection beyond just a place to jump on a treadmill, lift weights or go swimming. “The majority of members are coming not just to workout and stick their earbuds in, but they’re coming to connect with others,” he said.
At this year’s IHRSA Convention and Trade Show, technology was one of the main themes on the trade show floor. Today, club operators are being inundated with hundreds of tech products claiming to solve any issue a club could think of.
Although many of these products are extremely beneficial, “You have to decide how far you want to go with technology, because each piece of technology you invest in requires implementation, execution and training,” said Kevin McHugh, the COO of The Atlantic Club, in a post-IHRSA interview with Club Solutions.
William Vanderbloemen, a contributor to Forbes, also warned of the perils that come with valuing technology over human capital. “People are the ones who will sell another person on software — a machine will have a hard time convincing someone a product is valuable and effective because it can’t describe the benefits in human terms,” he said.
Phil Howard echoed this sentiment, recognizing the importance of not just valuing human capital, but investing in it. As a result, one of the brand’s top priorities has been investing time and resources into the hiring and employee development processes.
“The people part of it is a huge key to our success,” he said. “It’s not only our physical locations, but it’s the people we have as teammates.”