"What's in it for me?"
Believe it or not, this is what most of your employees are thinking when considering staying with you or taking a new position elsewhere. Your employee value-proposition answers that question. But adding value to that proposition doesn't have to mean increasing the cost of payroll or benefits.
This article will quickly highlight the costs associated with employee turnover and give you some new and different ways to create 'value-added employment'. It is time to get outside the box of 'employee-of-the-month' awards and carrot-and-stick monetary motivators!
"It is time to get outside the box of 'employee-of-the-month' awards and carrot-and-stick monetary motivators!"
I have worked in just about every position in the health club industry. I have manned the front desk, taught, managed, trained, babysat and even did a week as the night janitor. As an owner, I have donned the hats of accountant, marketing/communications director, sales consultant, and human resources manager. I mention all this not to toot my own horn, but to let you know that I speak as someone who has walked in almost everyone else's shoes (or aqua socks as the case may be!) at some point in my fitness industry career. I know from my own experience, that job satisfaction and decisions to stay or leave a position had little to do with pay and benefits.
First you must understand that employees at a health club feel that their chosen profession is a reflection of their own lifestyle and values. The thrill of helping others integrate fitness into their life is a driving force for many fitness instructors and trainers. This source of satisfaction comes from the relationship between the member and the employee. What can you as the employer do to build a staff that is excited and committed to the club's mission? And, if there are many candidates in the job pool at this time, why should you be concerned with turnover at all?
"Employee turnover in a membership-based business can be more expensive than in other industries due to the high impact that your staff has on the decision of your members to renew or discontinue memberships"
Employee turnover in a membership-based business can be more expensive than in other industries due to the high impact that your staff has on the decision of your members to renew or discontinue memberships. After all, you are running a 'club' and the club concept implies feeling good about the people who surround at the club. In a study by American Sports Data, Inc and IHRSA, "Overall Quality of Staff" was rated third in a list of 32 characteristics that impact member satisfaction and the renewal decision . Availability of cardiovascular equipment was rated 10th and yet many owners spend more time and money on the selection and purchase of treadmills than on staff development. Look close at any set of industry statistics and you will clearly see a proportional relationship between employee turnover and member attrition.
Improving your staff's employment experience and the reduction of employee turnover will result in additional tangible benefits beyond member retention. Consider the real costs of employee turnover. Studies have estimated that direct turnover costs can be 25%-30% of an individual employee's salary/benefit package. These costs can include: separation pay, termination and hiring administrative costs, exit interviews, employment advertising, employee pre-screening, interviewing, assessment testing, background checks, formal and informal training time, employment literature and manuals, and the learning curve of the new employee. To calculate the cost of employee turnover in your organization click this link.
Hopefully, as a reader of FitCommerce.com, you are already utilizing good management tools such as screening processes, orientation periods, employee manuals, and periodic performance reviews. However, there are many opportunities in a health club environment to create 'value-added employment'. It is possible to attract and retain quality staff without significantly adding to your payroll expenses.
Employees as "Infopreneurs"
Your fitness employees (assuming that you are hiring knowledgeable trained professionals) hold the information that the rest of America wants to know more about. Seek out the speakers and writers among your ranks and create opportunities for them to show their stuff. Create a tiered presentation program. Allow newer or inexperienced employees the chance to present content to fellow employees and /or members. Reward good performance with the chance to get outside the club walls and present to the public.
It is up to you as the owner/manager to find the opportunities for the employees. Not only are these great PR moments for the club, but it demonstrates to the employee that you consider them a professional capable of performing on behalf of the organization. Moreover, it gives your employees a sense of a career track and room for growth. No one likes a dead-end job.
- The outgoing group instructor that is often seen chatting with members 45-minutes after their class is over may be the ideal person to deliver a presentation at the local senior center.
- Your trainer who is pursuing his B.S. in Exercise Physiology may be an excellent contributor of content to your website.
- Ask local employers if they would like a fitness column for their employee newsletter. Talk to schools and senior centers about monthly presentations and let you employees develop their presentation skills.
- In smaller markets, the local TV or radio station may be interested in a weekly fitness segment.
- In addition, you may want to consider creating a position of 'presentation coordinator' someone who develops presentations and gives assignments to other staff members.
A safe way to protect your continuing education investment of capital is to reimburse 50% after 6 months of employment and 100% after a year of employment.
Offset Professional Costs
Many clubs provide reimbursement for continuing education classes or bring education in-house. A safe way to protect this investment of capital is to reimburse 50% after 6 months of employment and 100% after a year of employment. Education represents a significant cost to fitness professionals. This is money well spent if your employees are given the opportunity to share with fellow employees and are taking classes that can be applied directly to your membership. The internet and teleclasses (multiple people call a phone 'bridgeline') have opened up new avenues for obtaining CEC's. Consider allowing employees to use your company's phones and computers to engage in continuing education.
Fitness professionals also have to buy footwear, exercise clothing and music. You can help your employees look and perform their best by including professional discount applications in their employee handbooks. Nike, Reebok, Avia, Addidas, and Ryka all offer instructor discounts. Reebok Alliance is an exceptional instructor program because they not only send your employees a great catalog, but also produce an informative newsletter. By providing instructor discount program information to your employee you are demonstrating an understanding of their professional expenses and helping them to reduce those expenses.
Consider budgeting $25 a month for new music or use music supplier gift certificates as group instructor incentives or bonuses. Again, your members will be happier with new and changing music in their classes and your employees will appreciate your contribution in their ability to deliver a quality class. Be sure to counsel employees to save all receipts for possible tax deductions.
The table below will link you with some providers: