5 Proven ways to Improve Staff Retention for Fitness Businesses


5 Proven ways to Improve Staff Retention for Fitness Businesses

You walk into a club. 

See a small team handling large groups of members. Stressed, frustrated, with hopeless faces. Poor coordination. 

How would you feel?

This absence of enough team members is a sign of a staff retention problem. Especially when the average staff attrition rate is 25% – 35%. It can hinder your Health Club’s success gravely.

If your Health Club focuses on retaining members and keeping them engaged, then building a proactive and effective team becomes more crucial. Don’t you think?  

When you have a good staff retention rate, you save time and money, and it reflects in your member retention.

Hiring staff is a lot like running on a treadmill set to eleven; it’s hard work that eats up all of your time and adds to your expenses if you have to keep doing it.

Wise business owners recognize that retaining staff requires continual attention – it accomplishes more than just reducing turnover.

Mike Alpert, who was CEO of The Claremont Club for more than 2 decades, says, “At the Claremont Club, the cost of recruiting, training and bringing a front line employee to a point that the manager doesn’t have to trail them all the time was $3500 per employee.

We had 254 employees. If you took the average attrition rate for a club in the United States, they lose about 25-35% of their staff every year. So if you take even 20% while we were at 8%, that 12% difference into $3500 a year is a lot of money.”

Your team is at the front-end, dealing with members closely – welcoming, serving and inspiring your members. They are the primary drivers of the customer experience at the club.

The ones keeping your members active and engaged in the long term. The ones passing on your care and values to the members. Make your staff aware of how their actions make a big impact at the club.

Here are a few sustainable ways how you can increase your staff retention in the long term:

1. Strong Culture

Establish a strong club culture – it creates an invisible bond that binds everyone together.

It fosters a happy environment, which has an impact on your staff turnover and eventually on whether or not your members will return.

Be consistent in maintaining that culture. Make your staff feel your core values – through interactions or by simply being present at the club.

Celebrate their highs, support them in their lows. Make them feel special, make them feel that you care about them.

Make participation and involvement a part of the culture. Extend communication channels to foster staff engagement.

Managers should be actively aware – within reasonable limitations – of what is going on in their team’s work and lives. Assist them. Support them. Emphasize teamwork.

This habit of being involved and always looking out for each other in the Health Club develops a circle of interdependence and generosity.

Team members will feel connected to one another. They will share responsibility for their achievement.

Organise events and team bonding sessions. Have Family days where they can bring their families to social events at work.

Get involved in them yourself. Build closer ties with them, understand them better. See where they are coming from and how you can make their lives better.

Give extensive training to new hires. Recognize everyone’s accomplishments. Appreciation motivates team members to stay, so congratulate them on their accomplishments, big or small.

When someone goes above and beyond, say “thank you”. Create a pleasant environment for your staff to work in.

Your members will notice the friendliness and pleasant energy when they walk into the Health Club.

And this sense of involvement and interdependence will, of course, have a beneficial impact on their experience.

A small thing you can do is have Child Care at the club. Your staff will give their 100% in the Club, knowing that their children are learning about kindness and empathy, learning new languages and socialization skills at the teaching sessions offered through the child care service. Not at school, but at the Club.

Mike Alpert says “Labour costs are crazy, you can’t do it with pay. You have to do it with your culture and character, taking care of your people, giving them meaning and purpose in their work.

Caring about them as human beings. And not just saying it, but doing it. Spending money on them, spending time and effort with them.”

He also adds, “It came back by accident in a powerful way as it never meant as give to get.” 

So focus on your staff and members, the number will eventually follow.

2. Maintain Character

People are drawn to like-minded people and organizations. They want to work with someone true, just, fair and honest. Someone who maintains transparency at all levels.

Even if you possess every other desirable characteristic, but lack strong character, you are missing something important. It’s a non-negotiable part of who you are.

Sudden pay cut? Let your staff know the reason – that your operations cost has gone up and you need to cover. Or how Covid-19 has dipped the revenue. Offer a genuine apology in case of any mistakes. Resolve conflicts openly and directly.
This shows character.
When a Health Club is more transparent with its staff, the engagement increases, club culture strengthens and there is a sense of comfort, allowing them to freely interact. Such an environment makes people feel valued and promotes creativity.

They will be happier to put in their time and effort into their work. They’ll go above and beyond the job description and bring something new to the table.

If they feel their manager is concerned about their well-being and encourages them, their job satisfaction skyrockets, as does the Health Club’s success.

Showing character even boosts the morale of staff, reduces job-related stress, and boosts performance. It will eventually result in a high return on investment.

3. Shared Values

People’s actions are influenced by their values. These values serve as a guide for making daily decisions. Even your Health Club’s aligned values, beliefs, behaviours, and experiences come together to make it what it is.

And your club will go from OK to outstanding if you and your staff share the same values. This belief and faith in you can make them stay for years at your club.

To develop the spirit of involvement, again, do what your staff and members believe in, on a deep-rooted level. Sponsor charity classes.

Send trainers to places where people could benefit from their expertise and give their services for free. Give back to the community.

People prefer working for companies and organizations that participate in philanthropic activities. Ones who believe in making a difference and making the world a better place.

A staff member will give their best in training the members of the club every day if their children are learning about kindness and empathy, learning new languages, and developing social skills in the child care classes at the club.

You should also create a welcoming, safe and supporting environment for all sections of the population – regardless of age, gender, body type, race and ability.

Your staff will feel nice, seeing that you give a chance to people of all kinds and make everyone feel equal.

4. Talk and Listen – as much as possible

Maintain an open, two-way conversation.  Suppose a staff member has some problem with their scope of work. They aren’t doing what they thought they were hired for.

Here, an established system that allows open communication will help address the dissonance rather than result in the loss of a valuable staff member.

Constantly communicate with your staff. Include technology (like an app) in their experience to make communication smoother. Ensure they are satisfied. Listen to them. After all, they are the ones who keep the club going.

  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with each staff member regularly.
  • Accept anonymous suggestions.
  • Formalize your evaluations – meet every staff member at least once a year.

Discuss their performance and make plans for the future. Take their feedback. Listen to their concerns. Inquire about what your staff requires to succeed, and do your best to supply it.

Consistent, open communication aids in the resolution of any concerns before they become major difficulties. It gives you and your staff, as well as your members, peace of mind.

Even if one of your staff members expresses a desire to leave, try to figure out why. Once you understand their reasons, you should be able to persuade them to stay. If they still choose to leave, stay in contact. Invite them to events or functions.

5. Focus on their Development

Show that you care, figure out whether they resonate with your values – right from the start. A new staff orientation process and package are required, just as it is for new members.

It is more than just going over papers and signing forms. It is the greatest moment to set the tone and meaning of your working relationship, clarify your expectations, and define the boundaries at the outset.

Show that you care about their lives and who they are as people by taking an interest in where they are.

As a manager or owner of a Health Club, you’re also bound to come across a variety of staff members. Some will be content to come to work, do their jobs, and go home to their families.

Others would believe that to be content with their work, they must always improve. Hence, Internal training and professional development is one way to develop your staff.

It can also mean the staff wants to meet their own objectives. Perhaps they have a destination in mind, a fitness goal to achieve, or a qualification they believe is required. Speak with them. Figure out what they want. Then take action.

It is your responsibility to provide your staff with the option to balance their lives if that is what they need. Like – working from home days, the chance to buy or earn extra vacation time, or providing them with high-quality amenities.

Most staff members would be happy to stay at their current job if the organization invested in their professional development.

This shows that if a Health Club owner wants to keep its staff engaged and retain them, they must invest the money necessary to grow them.

Investing in your team’s happiness pays off handsomely in the long run. It benefits every part of your Health Club. Your team fosters the kind of environment that keeps members coming back.

They increase attendance and revenue. They can also be trusted to handle their share of the business operations, allowing you to devote more time to your members.

The outlines above are simple to adopt and are guaranteed to keep staff members engaged, in a healthy work-life balance, and far from the exit door to another firm.

This is the most rewarding road to take for any Health Club owner or manager who wants to build a long-term team of committed members.

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