Dan Duran, the head of academic and industry partnerships of ISSA, shares tips for operators on creating careers.
There’s no question that the post-pandemic staffing challenges surpassed anything ever seen by health club owners and operators — and most businesses for that matter. The Great Resignation didn’t just create a staffing problem, it exposed a bigger problem. The fitness industry does a poor job creating careers for personal trainers and most health club staff. A wise CEO once said, “Keeping great players on the fitness team is simple. They want three things: Pay me, grow me, and respect me.” Just to reinforce this fact, a 2021 Pew Research study showed that these were also the top three reasons employees left their jobs.
Most entry level club staff — in particular personal trainers — are hired as part-time employees. They are often paid just above minimum wage and don’t receive benefits such as paid time off and health insurance. This isn’t what a career looks like, so they leave within months of being hired — contributing to the 80% trainer attrition seen in most clubs. Health clubs need to offer competitive pay and benefits to get a candidate to commit to an interview, let alone hire and retain them.
The famous staffing questions are, “Do I invest in employees so they can just leave?” Which is followed by “What if I invest in them and they stay?” At a base level, employers should be willing to invest in training for new hires to ensure they can be successful. Most new personal trainers have never done an intake or interview, sold training or written a periodized program. Make the investment in setting up your team for initial success, then continuing education. You’ll also want to ensure they have a path for growth through promotions and additional responsibilities.
Empowerment of employees isn’t a new concept, but you’ll also find that millennials and Gen Z team members have a desire to not only be a part of something much bigger than themselves, but they also want to contribute to it. Ensure that you are asking for their feedback and opinions when decision-making, so they have some buy-in and ownership of new initiatives. Better yet, leverage their strengths by asking for ideas on how to improve your processes and programs, then let them be a part of creating them. The days of just telling people what to do are long gone. Teamwork has never been more important.
It’s That Simple
In summary, improving your ability to gain, train and retain good employees is a simple solution within a complex environment. Pay them well, provide them with training and growth opportunities, and respect them as individuals while providing them opportunities for empowerment.