How to Keep Your Health Club Staff Motivated

March 28, 2013

By: Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas’ Fitness Management & Consulting

In working with health club clients that are struggling and attempting to turn around their existing situation; one of the common things we see is managers and owners mistakenly thinking money, or the job itself, is the primary motivator for their staff. This rarely proves to be true and this type of thinking only makes the problems inside the club worse.

We have found the most important issues for most health club staff are: to be respected and the ability to respect who they are working for, a sense of accomplishment in a job well done, and recognition for performance. Money is important but it is not as critical as these other components. If you’re willing to accept this as being true, let’s look at how you can better motivate your health club staff:

1. Involve the staff in your health club.
Many health club employees want to be involved in the ongoing development and progress of their club. Since they are on the front line, they often have insightful ideas that can make a significant difference in the club. And when they are involved in the process, they buy-in quicker to changes and have less, if any, resistance. In other words, they own it. This means you can implement club changes more quickly and easily.

2. Communicate with your staff.
Very few health clubs can be accused of over-communicating. I hear it frequently said in the health club business that, “No news is good news.” However, most staff in a health club want regular updates on the progress of the club and their personal performance. Use everything you can think of to communicate: memos, email, text, telephone, and one-on-one and group meetings to keep your health club staff informed. Talk to your staff on a regular basis. Tell them what challenges are currently being faced in the club; they may have suggestions.

It is also important that your club staff receive feedback on their performance. If you have a concern with something, remember silence is acceptance. Tell them and give them the opportunity to correct their behavior. When working with clients, I am always surprised how many of the health club staff did not receive feedback of any kind pertaining to their performance.

3. Celebrate individual and overall club performance.
Find people doing something, in your health club, and focus on recognizing excellent performance. On an individual basis, you can provide positive reinforcement by issuing awards or using a club newsletter to highlight specific achievements. Send thank-you, birthday and anniversary cards as well as congratulatory notes to your staff. Make personal phone calls and send emails.

4. Set challenging goals.
My experience with health clubs has taught me that people strive to achieve what is expected of them. If you set challenging goals for your health club your staff will work hard to accomplish them, providing of course, they are realistically attainable. It is amazing what people can accomplish when they are given the opportunity to perform. Communicate these goals and keep your staff informed on the club’s progress.

5. Give your staff the tools to succeed.
No health club staff will stay motivated if they do not have the necessary tools required to do their job. This can include working equipment, regular training, accountability to the system and marketing materials. Put your staff in a position to succeed. Frustration will run high when this component is missed.

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6. Manage poor performance in club.
Your health club staff expects you to manage individuals who do not perform to the standard or contribute fully to the efforts of the club. However, many managers and health club owners ignore poor performance because they are afraid of the potential conflict. Instead, they hope the situation will resolve itself. It almost never does and this “blind” approach affects profitability and sales, causes higher turnover and contributes to low morale in the health club. By not getting it addressed, you really end up giving permission for low performance.

7. Lead by example.
If you want your health club staff to treat each other with respect and dignity, you need to set the tone. It starts with you. If you expect them to be motivated and enthusiastic, it is critical that you behave in this manner. As an owner of a health club or manager of a health club, your staff looks to you for direction and guidance.

Now, go get ’em motivated.

Jim Thomas’ Fitness Management & Consulting