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Recap: Bringing Back and Retaining Top Talent

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On July 21, Club Solutions Magazine presented the seventh installment of a monthly virtual roundtable series on thought leadership, surrounding bringing back and retaining top talent.

Panelists included Ralph Rajs, the COO of Forma Gym; Michele Wong, the COO of Active Wellness; Amy Thompson, the vice president and General Manager of IDEA Health & Fitness Association; Frank Lawrence, the CEO of Little Rock Athletic Clubs; and Ryan O’Toole, the regional manager of Anytime Fitness Cheswick, Leechburg and Kittanning. The discussion was led and moderated by Rachel Zabonick-Chonko, the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. Sponsored by Club Automation.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on bringing back and retaining top talent.

Bringing Back Staff Post-COVID

  • Your employees have all the same concerns as your members.
  • Staff could have social anxiety about returning.
  • Labor shortage is causing problems.
  • Staffing is the No. 1 concern for health clubs right now.
  • Some clubs are challenged with getting group fitness instructors to come back.
  • Have a close relationship with your HR team.
  • You can’t serve a front desk or clean a closed facility online, so a lot of those frontline employees had to move on to other opportunities.
  • Young trainers and staff used the closures to re-evaluate what they wanted to do with their lives and decided to leave the industry all together.
  • The closures gave long-term trainers a break from burnout, and they were excited to come back and reset.

An Employer’s Perspective

  • A biggest challenge clubs are facing is that minimum wage keeps rising.
  • What rate do you offer new hires to get them, but is also fair to your long-term employees?
  • Dues will likely rise to compensate for new labor costs.
  • You’re paying fewer staff to do less work, which can put pressure on your club to make more revenue.
  • It’s hard to pay employees more when you’ve brought in less revenue in the past year.
  • Will you keep an online streaming or app offering? If so, you must consider how you will compensate your instructors for this. If not, they will likely go start their own online offerings. As clubs have opened, virtual workout attendance has been dropping.

Being an Attractive Employer

  • It’s all about culture.
  • Be active in your community.
  • Have your staff help you recruit great staff members.
  • Some of the best hires have been through hiring members.
  • Make sure new hires have a good personality and energy — that’s something you can’t teach.
  • Consider, who is represented in your community that is not represented in your employees?
  • Make sure inclusion is a part of your hiring process.
  • Network beforehand. Do they have what you need?
  • Get good at growing your own talent.
  • Are your job requirements leaving too many people out?
  • Do new employees really need all the skills, or can you teach them?
  • Share employee testimonials.

Group X Staff

  • Have a coaching and professional development strategy in place.
  • Honor your employees’ passions.
  • Be sure to share your mission with employees and make sure they understand and align with it.
  • Have a program to help new hires get certified.
  • Some people aren’t motivated by money, give them more responsibilities.
  • Always be recruiting your current staff.
  • Make sure they understand the bigger picture.
  • Show care through explanation.
  • Find incentives that make trainers want to be exclusive with you.
    • The more you work, the more you make.

Top Leadership

  • Give top leadership roles that suit their other interests.
  • Autonomy is important.
  • Being coached and wanting feedback are good aspects to look for top leaders.
  • Work collaboratively.
  • Create greater connection with your employees.
  • Have growth opportunities.
  • Don’t have a top-down approach.
  • Give employees variety and growth.
  • Get to know your employees so you know how they like to be pushed.
  • Be flexible. Employees will give more if you are willing to go through the highs and lows with them.
  • Give them opportunities to make tasks their own, rather than making them feel like you are constantly watching over them.
  • Have a servant attitude. Serve your staff, don’t have them serve you.

Employee Burnout

  • If you are really caring for your employees, you can see the signs then intervene.
  • Take it as a case-by-case basis.
  • Watch for someone who is starting to fall off.
  • A lot of roles in our industry are lonely. You need to make sure you have a support system in place.
  • Extend your connection to your employees.
  • Don’t give employees too many hats to wear.
  • Stay active. Find things to refill your tanks. Recharge days: encourage your employees to utilize their PTO. Carve out time to do things you enjoy.

Final Thoughts

  • Your employees have more choices than ever. How are you going to move forward? Embrace the no wall’s philosophy.
  • Challenge your people. Make it fun. Create opportunity.
  • Be creative. Don’t keep your hiring processes the same because that’s what you’ve always done.
  • They are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.
  • Be prepared when you are interviewing.
  • Always have a short list of potential hires in case an opportunity comes up.
  • Never stop recruiting, even after you hire.

Love learning new insights from other owners and operators in this format? If so, consider joining a Club Solutions Mastermind Group. We offer four different types of peer-to-peer groups for every level of health club management. Email Bob Surface at bob@peakemedia.com for additional details while spots last.

Access the on-demand version of this webinar.

Access the audio-only version of this webinar.

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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