Boutique fitness and gym owners have their hands full heading into fall. If it was a long summer for your business, you're probably looking forward to the return of school, which marks the return of busy parents to your gym. There's a lot to do to prepare for an influx of clients, but while planning your challenges, open houses, and schedule, don't forget about intentionally retaining your staff.
We've been receiving a lot of questions about staff engagement lately, and it's no surprise. With phrases like "quiet quitting" and "the great resignation/reorganization" blaring through news channels, keeping your staff happy and committed is a topic no studio is ignoring.
As a service provider, your gym is only as strong as your teachers and desk team- which includes your own buy-in and burnout, as well. Whether your studio employs 20+ people or you're a one-(wo)man show, it's a great time to check in to your studio's culture to ensure sure it encourages engagement and longevity.
If you Google that question, nearly two billion articles come up. There is no magic formula that guarantees an employee will stay happily committed at your gym for years to come, but there are ways you can increase your chances of a long-term team.
Survey Your Staff
Your first step for any new initiative is almost always to start with a survey. "Don't guess, ask" is an excellent quote to remember that it's much more effective to ask your intended audience what they need rather than guess and risk spending effort and money ineffectively. Begin your culture of engagement by asking your staff the following questions:
Let's break each question to illustrate why they're necessary.
Knowing each employee's language of appreciation makes everyone's job easier and more enjoyable- yours included. One teacher may love a public display if you brought treats into class on their work anniversary and celebrated with a round of applause. That may be another teacher's nightmare- she may prefer a personal hand-written note and a raise.
Let's say you give an instructor a raise, but she teaches fitness as a hobby in addition to her full-time job. Now you're spending more on payroll, but she still doesn't feel admired. If you show recognition in a way that doesn't resonate with each individual staff member, you could be speaking an entirely different language, which eventually leads to disconnect and mutual frustration.
Don't guess. Ask your employee what makes them feel valued so you can speak their language. Need more on this topic? This book is an incredible resource.
It's true that work isn't always fun, but if you know what motivates your employees, you can help foster an environment that provides the right kind of inspiration. Sure, the paycheck is a big reason why most of us clock in, but what else do they hope to get out of the job? Do they love interacting with the clients? Working out? The freedom to design their class? This question is important for new hires, but it's never too late to ask if you don't know your current teachers' motivations.
Both questions are crucial in any survey since you want to accentuate what your employees like about your studio culture and improve the parts they don't. You'll want to include your clients; their feedback is also valuable and should be implemented to shape your company's atmosphere. Once you collect answers, try to take action right away to show your staff that you value their feedback.
Surveys have shown that continued education is essential for job satisfaction, especially if you have a Gen Z or Millenial staff. Training is an investment, and it's one you can make in your employees to improve both their buy-in and their long-term retention in your studio. Certifications, ACE credits, expert-led workshops, and sales trainings are all learning opportunities your staff benefit from while improving your studio's competitiveness. Ask what interests your staff so you can bring pros or offer scholarships for their continued education.
We often hear, "how do you encourage teachers to sub for each other?" and the truth is, it starts with camaraderie. If you hope your staff will cover for each other, they first need to know (and hopefully like) each other. There are limited opportunities for teachers to spend quality time together during scheduled classes, so build it into your culture. Ask your staff what they'd like to do as a team, but here are a few ideas to start you off:
Most people love surprise gifts, and it's a nice gesture that won't cost you much. Knowing your employees' coffee preferences is an easy way to make someone's day when you spontaneously drop their favorite drink at the desk for your teacher to find on their way out of class. It's effortless and promotes a culture of appreciation.
Build Your Foundation First
At the end of the day, building a culture that celebrates your staff is more than just perks. When surveyed, most employees look for: