By Katie Zacharkiw, Special AFS Contributor

Your employees set the tone for your business, boost sales, and are the core of your business operations. So when you hire a good employee, it’s in your best interest to hold on to them for a long as possible.

Why Staff Retention Matters

On the business side of things, staff retention matters because the consistency saves you a lot of time and money. It’s expensive to hire and train a new employee.

But the single most important reason why staff retention matters is that your employees are the biggest drivers of the client experience at your gym. A good client experience means happy clients, and happy clients mean increased revenue.

How to Improve Staff Retention at Your Gym

So how do you go about keeping your best employees? Luckily, there are several things you can start doing today to improve staff retention at your gym.

Incentivize Performance

One way to get your staff invested in your business is to tie bonuses to performance. The point is for your staff to understand that when business does well, they do too. There are a few ways you might offer monetary incentives:

  • Target-based bonuses. This could be tied to selling retail, plans and passes, memberships–anything you sell at your gym. Offer employees a bonus if they meet a set quota. 
  • Attendance-based bonuses. Staff play an important part in client retention. Offer a bonus if they are able to book 20 clients for their class (or whatever makes sense for your business).

There are other ways, too. You might offer a percentage of revenue from program growth, event sales, or commissions. It all depends on what works with your business model.

Keep An Open, Two-Way Dialogue

Do not assume your employees are happy–make sure you know it. Communication is key for improving staff retention.

  • Schedule regular 1-on-1s with each staff member. Offer your own feedback on their performance, and listen to (and act on!) any issues they may have.
  • Accept anonymous feedback. Hopefully, your staff always feels comfortable talking to you, but just in case make sure there is a way to receive anonymous feedback. Some people may feel more comfortable bringing up an issue if they can do it privately.
  • Conduct formal evaluations. At least once a year, meet with each employee for a formal evaluation. Discuss performance and set goals for the next year. Ask your employees what they need to succeed, and do your best to provide it.

Consistent, open communication helps address any issues before they become real problems. It gives peace of mind to you and your staff, and by extension your clients.

Offer Perks

Your gym may be too small to offer benefits like health insurance and paid vacation (if you do offer these things, awesome!), but there are other perks you can offer to your staff that fit in the budget.

  • Gym Swag. Don’t make your retail section an employee free-for-all, but offer branded items to your staff and encourage them to wear/use them. It’s good advertising to your clients, and it helps staff feel more connected to your community.
  • Snacks. Your staff works hard all day, and they’ll need some fuel to keep them going. Don’t expect employees to bring in their own food. Provide snacks that they can access throughout the day.
  • A staff lounge. It can be exhausting to work with clients all day. Create a staff-only lounge at your facility that employees can retreat to. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be private.

Staff perks will vary by business, but it’s important to do something to make staff feel like they’re being taken care of.

Encourage Professional Development

Fitness instruction is constantly evolving, and it benefits everyone if your staff stays on top of current knowledge and trends.

  • Encourage continuing education. Always encourage your staff to expand their skills and seek out new certifications, and help fund the classes if you're able to. Remember, investing in your staff ultimately benefits your clients and your business.
  • Be transparent about internal job openings. Always let your staff know when a job opens up at your gym. An employee might be interested in pursuing a promotion, or they might know someone else who would be great for the role.

Support Your Staff

You’re the boss, which means you have most of the power. You can support your staff in several ways:

  • Offer thorough training to new employees. New employees should be thoroughly trained on your gym’s etiquette and operations. Make sure they know your gym’s rules and are comfortable with your business operations, including how to use any software. 
  • Recognize success. Appreciation drives retention, so celebrate your staff’s victories, both big and small. Make sure your employees know that you recognize and reward a job well done. Say “thank you” when someone makes the extra effort. Create a positive atmosphere that your staff wants to be around.
  • Mediate client issues. You’ve heard the phrase “the customer is always right,” but sometimes that just isn’t the case. If you have a client who is regularly causing trouble for other clients or your staff, you need to step in. Even if it means firing the client, it’s your job to keep your facility a safe space.

At the end of the day, your staff just want to feel like you’re on their side. Building up that kind of trust with your staff will significantly improve long-term retention.

The Bottom Line

Investing in your staff’s happiness pays out huge business dividends. Your staff creates the type of community that retains clients. They boost attendance and sales rates, which is good news for your bank account. And they can be trusted to handle their part of the business operation, freeing you up to focus more on your clients.

The bottom line is that when you focus on your staff, every aspect of your business benefits.


More by this author:

6 Ways to Boost Attendance Rates at Your Gym Using Local SEO


Katie Zacharkiw is the Content Marketing Manager at Pike13, a scheduling software company located in Seattle, WA. She has more than seven years of experience in content strategy and marketing

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