Jenny Dell is the marketing director and Webmaster for Legend Fitness, a commercial strength equipment manufacturer based in Knoxville, TN. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s School of Journalism, Dell has spent the past seven years in marketing, graphic design and public relations roles. At Legend Fitness, Dell’s responsibilities include Web site management, graphic design, marketing and advertising. She also writes a bi-monthly sales and marketing “Best Practices” column for a national machinery company. Dell can be reached at jenny@legendfitness.com.

With today’s fluctuating labor pool, you may be forced to compete not only for customers but also for employees. To put it simply, when employees feel fulfilled, positions stay filled. By providing your staff with jobs that produce meaning as well as money, you will find that workplace morale—as well as retention rates—will soar. Consider the following seven tips to help minimize workplace negativity and raise overall morale at your fitness facility.

1. Provide appropriate leadership and a strategic framework, including mission, vision, values and goals. People want to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves. If they understand the direction and their part in making the desired outcomes happen, they can effectively contribute more. Whether you operate a small storefront gym or manage a chain of large recreational facilities, establishing a mission that people feel good about supporting goes a long way toward retaining precious employees. Of course, before you can convey meaning to your employees, you must discover it yourself. Creating a meaningful workplace starts by asking and answering some basic questions about your facility and the way you do business:

  • Why are we in business?
  • What does our organization stand for?
  • Does our organization demonstrate its values, or are they just words on paper?
  • What is our organization doing or not doing in relation to our employees?
  • Where does the organization need to improve now and in the future?

2. Provide appropriate rewards and recognition so that people feel their contribution is valued. The power of appropriate rewards and recognition for a positive workplace is remarkable. Employee recognition programs don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. Something as simple as an Employee of the Month club is a great start. Consider unique reward programs for each individual department, showing deliberate care for your sales staff, customer service representatives, trainers, teachers and janitorial staff alike.

3. Provide opportunities for people to make decisions about their own job. The single most frequent cause of workplace negativity is traceable to a manager or the organization making a decision about a person’s work without his or her input. Almost any decision that excludes the input of the person doing the work is perceived as negative. Make your workplace a positive one by bringing the opinions of the employee to the negotiation table.

4. Provide opportunities available for people to communicate about workplace policies and procedures. Recognize the impact of changes in such areas as work hours, pay, benefits, assignment of overtime hours, dress codes, work location, job requirements and working conditions. Then, discuss any potential changes with your employees. Communication is key for a healthy working environment.

5. Collaborate with your entire staff. Management should be challenged to provide an open leadership model, moving away from direct supervision and moving toward a more collaborative culture. Again, the more you include your employees in the decision-making process, the more they will feel like a true team player within your facility.

6. Treat people as adults with fairness and consistency. Develop and publicize workplace policies and procedures that organize work effectively. Apply them consistently. As an example, each employee has the opportunity to apply for leave time. In granting each request, apply the same factors to each employee as you would your own request. This type of equality and respect is a powerful retention tool.

7. Afford people the opportunity to grow and develop. Training, perceived opportunities for promotions, lateral moves for development and cross-training are visible signs of an organization’s commitment to its staff. To help lower your turnover and increase excitement and passion for the work your facility does, provide some form of continuing education. Look for training opportunities in your area at http://fitnessbusinesspro.com/shows/.

A fitness facility in which management has little respect for its employees and is without a meaningful, fulfilling work environment is—or soon will be—a place full of low morale. By making a few simple changes in the way your run your facility, overall energy will increase company-wide. Excitement and purpose are contagious. Not only will a positive workplace make your day-to-day operations run smoother, it will also be reflected from your employees to your customer base—making a trip to your club an excellent experience for all.