Continuous Learning: Leading by Example
The importance of offering continuous learning opportunities for your employees.
Staffing has been a point of concern for the health and wellness industry after facing the Great Resignation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between losing staff members and an influx of first-timers to the industry, it’s more important than ever to ensure the employees you do have are top-notch.
Offering various opportunities for continuous learning is a great way to achieve this.
Continuous learning, as its name suggests, is the practice of always working to enhance skills, develop professionally and to expand your knowledge throughout your life. Businesses that invest in employees’ continuous learning are likely to be more efficient, innovative and have higher retention rates.
What does this look like?
For JoAnna Masloski, the chief operating officer of Wellbridge, it starts with ensuring all employees have the necessary certifications.
“All associates need to be CPR certified and go through a training on slips, trips and falls, and sexual harassment,” explained Masloski. “We also have credentials for our personal training levels, but all need to be nationally certified or have a four-year degree in a similar field. We have credentials for tennis professionals, aquatics professionals and, of course, people who work with children have specific background checks and the like.”
However, continuous learning goes beyond certifications. Christopher Montoya, the president of Thrive Business Development, said it’s also important to get your employees involved in area-specific courses and programs.
“There are so many good courses out there now it is great to watch our industry expand with certifications, education and courses,” said Montoya. “Specialty courses like TRX, kettlebell, Olympic lifting, sport-specific — I could go on forever — are so beneficial. I think it’s important to not only know your clientele but to know your staff. When someone has an interest in what they are taking a course for, it really fuels them to continue on the learning path.”
Masloski agreed ongoing classes are vital for team success. Wellbridge provides a free subscription to NASM for all qualifying personal trainers. Additionally, they offer annual subsidy to trainers, tennis professionals and studio fitness teammates for their continued investment in education of their choice.
Montoya said he promotes continued learning to all his staff regardless of their role, because you never know where a course or certification will take them. He utilizes ClubConnect powered by NASM for education and learning for his teams, making sure they give the staff a base knowledge of fitness, customer service and sales. This ensures every employee is speaking the same language.
“We have made it part of our culture to be a knowledge-seeking team,” said Montoya. “We suggest and help our staff continue their education process. In fact, we reward them in their compensation, so they know how important it is to us. It’s so fun to watch the growth and use their knowledge to move forward in this industry.”
While it’s vital to encourage your employees to continue their education to best serve your members, it’s also important to continue your education as a leader. There are various events — IHRSA, the Club Solutions Leadership Retreat, SIBEC, IDEA World, etc. — you can attend to network and gain new insights. The best way to encourage lifelong learning in your employees is by setting the example.
“I want to make sure I am leading by example, so it is of the utmost importance for me to be a student first and then pass on the lessons to my team,” said Montoya. “I heard once that 50% of what we know will be obsolete in five years. That really opened my eyes to the fact if I ever stop learning and relearning, I will become obsolete as well. This drives me daily. I have felt the pressure to outsource all of our education, but I believe as a leader we need to be part of the education team for our staff.”