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How to Retain Fitness Talent in 2023

Dramatic shifts in the perceptions of fitness industry careers have caused many to retire early or seek opportunities more aligned with their personal values. Despite these changes, the lingering economic impacts of the pandemic, and the rise of at-home exercise equipment and programs, health and fitness clubs have remained resilient.  This year, clubs will continue to be tested by economic uncertainty and a tight labor market. These obstacles provide a growth opportunity if wisely navigated.
Dramatic shifts in the perceptions of fitness industry careers have caused many to retire early or seek opportunities more aligned with their personal values, making it difficult to retain fitness talent. Despite these changes, the lingering economic impacts of the pandemic, and the rise of at-home exercise equipment and programs, health and fitness clubs have remained resilient.  This year, clubs will continue to be tested by economic uncertainty and a tight labor market. These obstacles provide a growth opportunity if wisely navigated. To stay competitive in 2023 and beyond, owners must retain fitness talent by finding innovative ways to engage their staff, creating attractive employee benefits, providing ongoing development opportunities, and promoting meaningful career paths within the organization while maintaining an enjoyable environment.

Retain fitness talent by building a winning culture

In the current job market, employers need to pay more attention than ever to their company culture to attract and retain fitness talent. Emphasize the values and principles that guide your team’s work. A positive gym culture doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by setting simple core values that your trainers and staff can relate to. This goes a long way toward fostering an encouraging atmosphere for your employees and members.  Regular communication of such values empowers individual employees to rise to the challenge through unique experiences and partnerships while aligning their efforts with the company’s goals. Upskill & offer career development opportunities for your employees. A comprehensive Gallup study of American workers revealed:
  • 48% would switch jobs for skills training opportunities
  • 65% believe employer-provided upskilling is very important 
Investing in employees to help them develop their knowledge and skills has long-term benefits for your staff and your business.  Providing resources and opportunities such as ongoing training or certification programs can engage and retain employees. Employee engagement is seen as an indicator of success in the fitness industry.  Employees whose skills can be developed and improved will be more valuable team members; everyone wins when good talent gets a chance to upskill.  Hire talent that fits your business and complements the team. Resumes don’t give the full picture of an individual — their motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s not just about having the right experience, but also about ensuring everyone on your team will work together towards common goals. Considering prioritizing:
  • Personality fit – Dig deeper into a candidate’s personality and make sure it fits your organization’s culture. The additional step of assessing candidates for their personality fit assures that you are getting the perfect person for the job. 
  • Soft skills – Good communication, active listening, time management, and interpersonal skills can greatly impact how well employees work together and accomplish tasks. Neglecting to develop soft skills can lead to confusion, tension, or other issues that impede progress.
By actively seeking applicants with the right fit and skills, you’ll be working toward creating an environment where everyone is empowered to do their best work.

Motivate your team and move your business forward

A workforce survey from Facebook in 2018 identified three main motivators that inspire people: career, community, and cause. This insight has become increasingly important to fitness organizations given its key role in retaining successful employees.  Actionable takeaways for your business: Take the time to build relationships with each employee by getting to know them personally. Having regular team meetings and skills-sharing sessions with your trainers can be great ways to start building a connection and help employees feel heard, understood, and valued. Recognize employees publicly to reinforce the “we” mentality and promote solidarity. Incorporating incentives and recognition shows that you value your employees and demonstrates a clear commitment to success.  Try adding some of these to your gym:
  • Feature an employee of the month
  • Social media posts highlighting their achievement
  • Create an employee appreciation program
  • Give shout-outs in team meetings
  • Use flexible scheduling or have extra paid time off
Give them opportunities to lead projects or initiatives within the company. This allows employees to develop new skills, gain leadership experience, and take ownership of something meaningful within the company.  Let trainers:
  • Design and lead new classes
  • Experiment with trending workout routines
  • Run your social media for a day or a week
  • Come up with promotional ideas
When employees have a strong connection with their peers and leaders, productivity increases dramatically – bringing higher levels of motivation, collaboration, and job satisfaction.

Offering flexibility and work-life balance helps retain fitness talent

Flexible scheduling helps retain skilled employees by acknowledging their needs and personal obligations outside work hours. Scheduling options for health and fitness clubs:
  • Part-time: Useful option for a wide range of people, allowing them to balance their commitments while still having the opportunity to pursue meaningful work.
  • Flextime: Allowing employees greater control over when they come in gives them greater flexibility without compromising core hours or productivity expectations.
  • Compressed workweek: It allows employees to complete their regular hours in fewer days, making the standard 40-hour week more manageable and enjoyable without sacrificing productivity.
  • Job sharing: Allowing two part-time workers to take on one full-time role, both parties benefit from creative scheduling that meets their individual needs.
Talented employees may look more favorably on a club that offers flexible scheduling options, particularly those juggling a hectic lifestyle or needing additional flexibility due to personal commitments such as: 
  • Students who need part-time work to better balance their schedules. 
  • Parents looking for more time with family or to cut daycare costs. 
  • Employees nearing retirement want to work but need a less stressful pace. 

Develop a talent acquisition that strengthens your core

Competition for top talent is fierce and will only intensify as the number of unfilled jobs continues to grow. 

3 tips for an effective strategy:

Always be sourcing. An open hiring policy is essential for any fitness business looking to find great candidates and fill positions quickly.  Even when no openings are available, you should always search for new talent that can fill future roles in your organization.  A proactive approach ensures that you are never short on quality candidates when the time comes to hire someone new. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to help you manage an always-hiring strategy, Wizehire is a perfect choice. Ask for referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to find qualified candidates. They already understand the culture of your business and have been recommended by someone you trust.  Plus, offering incentives like referral bonuses helps motivate current staff members to spread the word about open positions within their networks.  Evaluate your value proposition. It’s important to regularly assess what makes working for your company attractive to potential candidates. This ensures you’re creating an environment where top talent wants to stay long-term.  Consider factors such as salary and benefits, work/life balance, career growth opportunities, and culture — all of which affect employee satisfaction and retention rates.   The key to success lies in the club’s ability to invest in its employees by providing resources and opportunities for upskilling and meaningful career growth opportunities.  Having staff members that feel connected to the mission and brand of the organization is essential to creating an enjoyable work atmosphere that is conducive to productivity. With Wizehire’s help, you can strengthen your team by finding personnel who are not only qualified but whose values are also in line with your mission.  Health and fitness clubs that rely on Wizehire will have an easier time staying competitive in the coming years while providing members with exceptional service. Take advantage of our Applicant Tracking System today and transform the way you hire

Author

Chris Grubbs

Find your people. Grow your team. Meet your Wizehire.