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Hiring and Retaining Top Talent


The COVID-19 pandemic has created many issues for the health and fitness industry. A major one is hiring and retaining top talent. 

A variety of things have created this challenge; forced furloughs, rising minimum wage and employees discovering greater passion projects are just a few. 

Despite these obstacles, there are ways to ensure you still have the best people possible serving your members. A great place to start is making sure you are looking for the right qualities in the people you are hiring.

“Energy is No. 1 in my book. If you are trying to get an applicant excited about a position, they will only be average at best if you hire them,” said Jason Reinhardt, the owner of Go M.A.D. Fitness with locations in Michigan and Ohio. “If someone has enthusiasm as you’re speaking with them and they are getting you excited, then that’s what their approach will be toward the club, position and members. In summary, look for what you can’t teach.”

Matt Wright, the general manager and a partner at The Fort Athletic Club in Oceanport, New Jersey, looks for potential hires who are coachable, adaptable and, most importantly, those who can properly communicate.

Instead of asking potential hires how they would handle a situation, Wright likes putting them in a brief scenario and have them roleplay and talk aloud without any sort of coaching or direction. This allows him to see what that person’s baseline is and then know how he would have to coach them.

“If it’s difficult for the person to look you in the eye and have a conversation with you, maybe they’re not going to be your best front desk employee,” said Wright. “If it’s a trainer who is just terrified of sales, it’s probably not going to work out the best for that individual as well. The list can kind of go on and on.”

To ensure you will have people applying for your open positions, you have to make sure you are an attractive employer. According to Wright, a great way to do this is through team camaraderie. 

“I think everyone throws the culture word around a lot, but I don’t think they necessarily follow through with it,” explained Wright. “There’s a lot of over-promising and under-delivering. But culture is one of those things we must follow through with. Offer a learning management system to the new employee so everybody’s on the same page.” 

While important, team camaraderie shouldn’t only be a priority for new hires. It’s vital to make sure your long-time employees know they are valued, especially if they had to be furloughed during the pandemic.

“Most important with bringing staff back is give them the one-on-one time. Everybody deserves to have a voice,” said Wright. “Regardless if everybody had to get furloughed or not, it’s a challenging thing to have to go through that process. So, let them share with you what they went through and give them an opportunity to open up.”

Regardless of if you are hiring new employees or bringing them back on after being furloughed, one tip will help your club go far: showing appreciation.

“Your appreciation radar should always be on; a daily goal would be to look for the good being done and acknowledge it,” said Reinhardt. “If the staff feel valued and appreciated, then you’ll have a happier employee which in return will be a more productive employee.” 

Taylor Brown

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

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