The mantra of retention is repeated again and again among fitness facility management. Unfortunately, while member retention is a major concern, often staff retention is overlooked. And staff turnover may be one of the contributors to the turnover of members.

One way to help keep staff onboard and happy is to recognize them for their hard work and dedication to the organization and the membership.

“Research shows that for people to keep actively involved in their jobs and your organization [you must] show them recognition as much as possible — at least once a week,” says Adrian Gostick, co-author of The 24-Karat Manager, and director, marketing and corporate communications for Salt Lake City, UT-based O.C. Tanner Company, which specializes in helping companies motivate employees through comprehensive recognition solutions.

“While money is always a motivator, there is nothing more important to getting the most out of your employees then spending a few minutes a day to recognize the hard work they do,” he says.

While traditional methods of formal recognition, such as Employee of the Month awards, certainly have their place, Gostick says that there is more to recognition than that.

“It is important and not that hard to create your own little personal ways to give employees a ‘pat on the back,’” he says. “By asking employees as early as the interview what they would like you to do to show them they are doing a good job, you'll be able to make your recognition programs very personal, targeted and really give them what they want.”

Here are some easy, fun and cost-efficient ways to show employees they are valued.

  • Remember important days

    By remembering days such as birthdays and anniversaries, employees will feel a connection to a boss that truly cares. To take it a step further, give them a present for their children's birthdays and make their family part of your family.

  • Volunteer

    “Everyone has tasks that they dislike more than others,” says Gostick. “By doing that task for an employee, you are not only showing them that you understand, you are showing them that nothing is unimportant.” Some suggestions are folding towels, wiping equipment down, mixing smoothies and entering new member information into the computer system.

  • Give up something

    If you have a parking spot for you, give it to a valued employee for a day or a week. Let someone use your office for meeting a client or a prospect. Even better, give up your free time and work a shift for a valuable employee.

  • Take 'em out

    Find out what your employees like and play to that. If they like baseball, buy them a couple of tickets to a game for making quota. If it's the opera that they like, get tickets to that. The key here is that not only does it show you value the job they are doing, it shows you know them and their likes.

    “It helps employees feel like a person rather than a robot,” says Gostick. “The key is to talk with and listen to your employees all year so you know what their interests are. Nothing would backfire more than giving generic tickets to every employee or giving tickets to something they would not like.”

  • Make work interesting

    If someone has shown that they are capable of doing their job, give them an added responsibility or allow them to work on that special project. Having them try their hand at other jobs in the club (i.e., a personal trainer working sales) not only allows them to develop new skills, but it also shows that you think they are up to any task asked.

  • Make work fun

    There is no rule that work should be unpleasant or that employees should have to wait to be rewarded for working hard everyday.

  • “KFC has the lowest turnover rate in the fast food industry because it is a fun place to work,” Gostick says of one of O.C. Tanner Company's clients. “Among the things that KFC does to make the day more fun for employees is allowing employees to make the most of their day. Employees can start a standing ovation for themselves whenever they need one and they sing songs to each other for birthdays, etc.”

    The old adage is true: finding good help isn't easy. So when a fitness facility does find someone good, it pays to keep them and keep them happy by showing them that they are appreciated.