Before the pandemic hit, the global fitness and health club industry was booming, growing to $96.7 billion in 2019. But the market size dropped sharply in 2020, and it’s estimated that the pandemic inflicted around 20 billion dollars worth of losses to the US fitness industry’s revenue in that year alone. Almost 17% of US gyms and fitness clubs were permanently closed due to the pandemic, and several major sports and fitness organizations filed for bankruptcy.
Now, as the fitness world is getting back on track (helped in part by increased health awareness), the industry’s future looks bright – or does it?
Like many other industries, the health and fitness sector is feeling the effects of the Great Resignation. Qualified fitness trainers and instructors are increasingly hard to come by.
In this article, we’ll explore some strategies for attracting, engaging, and retaining fitness workers in 2022.
Fitness trainers and instructors work in facilities such as gyms, recreation centers, and yoga studios. Many of these individuals work variable or part-time schedules that may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Health and fitness facilities also employ people in cleaning, catering, security, and administrative roles.
As we touched on earlier, the fitness industry has had a tough couple of years. Those that survived the pandemic still face challenges retaining their members as lower-cost gyms open up in their areas. At the same time, they’re finding it difficult to convince talented employees to join and stay at their businesses.
Fitness industry employers don’t hold as much bargaining power as they did a few years ago, and employee job-hopping isn’t uncommon. All too often, this leads to the unwelcome knock-on effects of sub-optimal customer service and canceled memberships.
We should remember that irrespective of the industry in which they operate, any organization that fails to meaningfully engage their employees will struggle to retain them.
So, how can you incentivize your staff and trainers to remain loyal to your fitness facility even when competitors tempt them to leave? Here are seven strategies to consider:
When it comes to employee metrics, it’s not sufficient to just measure the number of classes a trainer teaches or the number of new members they sign up within a certain timeframe. You also need to gauge employee sentiment – how do people feel about the health club owner? How well do people get along with their colleagues? Do they feel they have ample opportunity for growth and advancement?
The good news is that this data isn’t out of reach. Several HR and gym management tools are available to make this task easy and provide clarity on where there might be areas for improvement.
To continue to perform at their peak (and help their clients achieve their personal fitness goals), fitness workers must invest time in ongoing learning. For example, they need to stay abreast of the latest developments in nutrition, strength training, and muscle mechanics. They’ll typically gain this knowledge by attending online or in-person workshops and training sessions.
Gym owners would do well to factor employee development into gym workers’ regular schedules. Prioritizing and investing in employees’ ongoing learning and development will ultimately create better experiences for a gym’s clientele. Also, don’t forget about people working in other roles, such as cleaners, receptionists, and clerks. These employees may need to enhance their existing skills or develop new ones if they’re to transition into more supervisory roles over time. Identify employees who are well-suited to management positions and proactively invest in their professional development.
Gym and fitness club environments are somewhat unique in that many employees aren’t desk-bound. This makes sharing company news and updates via traditional channels such as email less effective.
Fortunately, other digital communications solutions (such as that offered by Payactiv) are designed with non-deskbound employees in mind. It’s easy for people to receive important updates and notifications while they’re on the go through an app on their smartphone.
As with any role in any industry, compensation and benefits will influence a fitness worker’s decision to join or leave a workplace. However, don’t underestimate the importance of offering workplace flexibility. Prospective candidates will be naturally drawn to employers who demonstrate they’re committed to helping their people strike a good balance between their work obligations and personal goals and priorities. One way to do this is by offering shift scheduling flexibility. Consider investing in a digital tool that allows gym workers to swap shifts or classes “on-the-fly” if they suddenly find themselves needing to be in two places at once.
Payment flexibility is another easy-to-implement initiative. Earned Wage Access (EWA) programs allow employees access to wages they’ve already earned but not yet been paid. It eliminates the need for workers to turn to friends, family, or high-cost lenders for a loan in the event of unforeseen bills or expenses. With Payactiv’s EWA service, employees’ wages can be loaded onto a debit or prepaid card, transferred to their bank account, or even picked up as cash at Walmart. Alternatively, they can use their earned wages to pay for services like Uber and Amazon or pay their bills directly in the app.
We also offer free perks like discounts, budgeting and savings tools, and free bill management. Our unique operating model means that our service doesn’t involve lending money to employees – we simply provide them with access to the cash they’ve already earned. There are no credit checks and no adverse impact on credit histories.
It’s important to remember that gym members will be quick to pick up on any signs of conflict or animosity on the part of trainers and other staff. People come to the gym to enjoy themselves and unwind – not to enter a tense or toxic environment.
Fostering an internal culture of positivity and generosity in your health facility can be achieved in many ways. One idea is to encourage a spirit of community involvement. So, why not host free fitness classes for charity or allow your trainers to volunteer their services at no charge in disadvantaged local communities? Building workplace morale is a great step toward engaging and retaining workers.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated for a job well done, and health center employees are no exception. Gym owners can recognize their staff for good work in many ways. One way is to publicly acknowledge them on notice boards or in team meetings. Another idea is to offer high-performing trainers more new client opportunities.
You want your gym to be a place where people from all walks of life and backgrounds feel accepted and welcomed and one where the best trainers can work without fear of judgment, unfair criticism, or bias. That means ensuring you promote a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Fostering a diverse company culture and embracing diversity in your hiring practices will allow you to effectively market your health and fitness services to a wider range of demographic segments because you have trainers that can relate to the language of customers from different cultural backgrounds.
Many gyms and fitness businesses are finding it hard to remain competitive and profitable. Those that will emerge as winners in 2022 will be those that put a premium on employee experience and engagement.
Happy employees translate into positive gym member experiences. And members who enjoy their health club experiences are more likely to renew their memberships and recommend your facility to their friends and family.
Businesses that partner with Payactiv see significant cost reductions through increased recruitment, engagement, and retention. Click here to schedule a demo and start making your fitness business a place that catches the eyes of today’s top talent, or get in touch to speak to one of our team members.
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