How to Increase Employee Retention at Your Gym or Fitness Club


Few companies have escaped the impact of what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” of 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in August of this year alone, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs.

Gyms and fitness clubs have found themselves to be no exception to this trend, especially considering the hit the pandemic already delivered to membership levels, profits, and overall operations. The result? Employee retention is more important to the fitness industry now than ever before.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges companies are facing with retention, why reducing turnover is crucial for your business, and how you can keep employees around and happy.

Why Businesses Are Struggling with Employee Retention Today

Many of the underlying causes driving increased employee turnover in 2021 have plagued companies for decades. However, in light of the pandemic, these root issues have become even more substantial and immediate dealbreakers for a larger portion of the workforce.

Here are some of the biggest reasons companies—and gyms and fitness clubs in particular—are seeing increased turnover today:

·      Disengagement: Without passion for their work or a connection to their organization, workers lack the motivation to work hard or commit to their employer. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report found that on a global scale, employee engagement decreased from 22% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.

·      Poor Rewards & Recognition: Especially after working through a global pandemic, employees want to feel like a valued part of their companies. Inadequate compensation, insufficient benefits packages, and lack of active recognition for contributions all impair motivation and drive turnover.

·      Lack of Professional Growth Opportunities: Workers today want a career in which they can grow their skillsets, advance in pay and position, and be satisfied in their progress. If employees feel their career or abilities are stagnant at their current workplace, with no prospects for forward movement, they have no incentive to stay.

·      Insufficient Work-Life Balance: Employee burnout has become an epidemic in its own right. In a study conducted by Indeed in the first half of 2021, 52% of survey participants reported experiencing burnout this year—compared to 43% of respondents who said the same in a pre-pandemic survey. After the death and devastation wrought by COVID-19, people are no longer willing to sacrifice time spent with loved ones or their own mental health for their employer.

·      Micromanagement: Managers who constantly check up on their subordinates’ every move are driving them into the arms of companies that offer more autonomy. Micromanaging creates stress and anxiety, as well as often prevents employees from doing their jobs effectively (and enjoyably).

Why Gym and Club Owners Should Care About Employee Retention

Some companies don’t give a second thought to turnover, even now. After all, with so many people unemployed and searching for jobs, you can simply hire someone else to replace employees lost, right?

If that’s how you look at employee retention as a gym or fitness club owner, then that is your first mistake. Employee retention is crucial to your success in the fitness industry. How so?

Club employees shape member experience.

When a prospective or existing client walks into your gym or studio, it’s your employees on the floor who greet them, answer their questions, lead their workouts, and give them a positive and memorable experience. Your members are looking for quality and consistency in your staff members. If their favorite trainer quits to work for another gym, guess who’s going to follow?

Constant turnover decreases morale.

As more employees leave, the ones who do stay often become overworked and less motivated in the wake of their departure. Then, not only is your current staff spread thinner with more responsibilities to pick up, but they have also lost team members with whom they’ve developed positive relationships.

Higher retention rates foster increased productivity.

The longer you retain an employee, the more valuable they become to your company in terms of gained experience and expertise. Constant turnover means constantly having a team of employees who have yet to optimize their workflow, are less familiar with your organization, and are less invested in your success.

High turnover rates increase company costs.

Did you know that the cost of replacing one of your employees is equivalent to up to 33% of their annual salary? The bulk of these expenses comes from advertising for, interviewing, screening, and training new hires. But this hiring and training process will also decrease overall company productivity, resulting in a poor customer experience and, potentially, corresponding decreases in member retention.

5 Employee Retention Strategies to Help Your Gym or Fitness Club Thrive

The good news is that, in spite of the 2021 turnover trend for companies across all industries, gyms and fitness clubs are not powerless when it comes to employee retention. In fact, an analysis of the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report found that more than 75% of reasons for employee turnover are preventable.

Use these retention strategies to nurture your gym employees into happy and committed long-term members of your team!

1.   Open the lines of communication.

By regularly asking for and listening to employee feedback, you’ll learn what changes your employees want to see and make them feel like their opinions are valued. Schedule routine one-on-ones to check in with team members and learn how they are feeling, any concerns they have, and any ideas they’ve come up with to improve the employee and member experiences at your club. They’ll appreciate having a safe space to address issues and feeling like their voice is heard.

2.   Invest in employee training and development.

Fitness is constantly evolving, which means you and your team should be evolving along with it. Consistent trainings and growth opportunities will ensure your staff keeps up with the latest industry trends and knowledge, as well as keep them engaged. Analytics and reporting tools can help you identify opportunities for employee training.

3.    Give employees the tools they need to do their job.

Without proper resources and management support, employee performance will be suboptimal and staff members will become frustrated quickly. Provide them with innovative tools to make their job easier, such as a mobile app that allows them to communicate directly with clients and manage their own schedule or a streamlined POS and inventory management system. Be sure to set clear expectations and check on employee needs regularly, while offering them the space they need to work effectively and feel trusted.

4.    Offer rewards and incentives.

Incentivizing excellent performance and rewarding and recognizing hard work is crucial to employee satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty. Appropriately high wages, good medical benefits, regular raises, ample PTO, and target-based bonuses all work to retain good workers long-term. Don’t be afraid to get creative with incentives or recognition either.

Perks such as free branded merch for employees to wear, access to club amenities (e.g., free protein shakes from the smoothie bar, weekly allotted times for hydromassage chairs), and designated employees of the month can go a long way when paired with sufficient compensation and benefits.

5.    Promote work-life balance.

Today’s workers have little patience for jobs that demand so much of their time and energy that they miss out on enjoying the rest of their lives. Ensure your club staff have the tools they need to establish a fulfilling work-life balance. Plenty of PTO and flexibility in scheduling are key here. Also, make it a point to convey that self-care is a priority. Trendy events like yoga sessions and meditation workshops are great, but even more important are access to mental health resources and fostering an open, honest, and understanding work culture.

Increase Member and Employee Retention with Streamlined Club Solutions from ASF

If your fitness club isn’t running as efficiently as possible, your employee retention doesn’t stand a chance. With flexible, all-in-one club software and management solutions from ASF, your team will have all the tools they need to do their jobs easily and expertly. From branded mobile apps to analytics reporting and more, we can help you deliver a top-of-the-line employee experience — so your team can deliver an unparalleled member experience.

Are you and your team ready to work smarter, not harder? Learn more about how ASF can optimize your fitness club performance with a free demo today.



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About ASF

ASF is a leading technology company that provides software, payment processing and customer support to the fitness industry including gyms, health clubs and martial arts studios. Since 1973, we’ve given gym and fitness club owners the ability to generate more revenue through member engagement and stronger communities.

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