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Entries in human resources (14)


Employee Benefits: How Does Your Health Club Compare to the Competition?

Could you use some guidance when it comes to compensating your health club’s employees? If so, you’re not alone. The IHRSA Health Club Employee Compensation & Benefits Report, published in March 2017, can help you compare your club to the competition in terms of hourly pay, annual salaries, and employee benefits. 

The report is based on survey data provided by leading IHRSA member health clubs in the U.S. and Canada, and provides compensation information for senior management/corporate staff, salaried club-level employees, and hourly club-level employees. Salary information for select job titles is provided by geographical region, company type, and size in number of units and total annual sales. The report also provides a brief macroeconomic outlook on compensation and unemployment. 

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13 Unique Employee Benefits Offered by Top Companies 

by Regina Satagaj, vice president of human resources for IHRSA 

Last month I shared some strategies to help you determine the needs of your health club staff by gathering employee feedback. Now let’s look at some of the benefits you can offer to meet those needs, based on employee perks provided by top companies.

Research from Glassdoor found that more than half of employees say benefits and perks are a top consideration in accepting a position, and four out five workers say they would prefer new benefits over a pay raise. 

These are the top five benefits ranked by employees: 

  • Healthcare insurance
  • Vacation/paid time off
  • Performance bonus
  • Paid sick days
  • 401K plan, retirement plan and/or pension 

Where does the health club industry rank? The IHRSA Health Club Employee Compensation & Benefits Report states that the industry stacks up pretty well in offering most of the top five benefits.

But in addition to understanding and meeting employees’ basic needs or offering the top ranked benefits, what are leading companies doing to attract and retain employees?

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Strategies to Improve Your Gym’s Employee Retention Using Feedback

by Regina Satagaj, vice president of human resources for IHRSA 

Employee retention is critical to the health of your organization. With your eye on company growth, member satisfaction, and innovation, it's critical to maintain your successful workforce. 

Also, losing star employees comes with financial and non-financial costs—costs to the bottom line and demands on the organization, like training time, lost knowledge, and an impact on employee morale.

Meeting basic needs of your workforce has a direct correlation to retaining employees. However, with so many competing challenges, where do you begin in developing your organizational retention strategy and how do you know what basic needs matter to your employees? 

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Managing the Sticky Wicket of Social Media

It’s agreed. Social media can be a great tool that IHRSA clubs can use to grow their membership base, as well as retain loyal customers, by connecting with them and creating “buzz” around their programs and services.

However, the public, uninhibited nature of this communication mode can pose some major challenges for club operators. What problems are most likely to occur? Here are some hypothetical scenarios that could arise in your club, and what you can—and can’t—do under the law as it stands right now.

Situation #1: Sherri S. and Christine E. are Zumba instructors at ClubFun. While Sherri loves her work, she feels that the club could be more orderly, and that she’s not getting enough break time. But, instead of speaking directly with her manager about these issues, she voices her complaints to Christine through social media, tweeting, “Not too much to ask to keep facilities neat and give employees the breaks they deserve!” The next day, Sherri’s manager says the tweet was disrespectful, and he’s considering whether or not to retain her as an employee after her sarcastic outburst.

Question: Can an employee be terminated for what a company sees as misuse of its social media accounts?

Answer: No. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) prohibits restrictions on union and non-union employees because their concerted activity is protected. Individuals are allowed to talk about conditions of employment to co-workers, even if that conversation takes place on social media.

The NLRB has issued a number of judgments in this area. One of the most recent dates from March 2016, when an administrative law judge ruled that Chipotle violated the law by applying an unlawful social media policy that required an employee to delete tweets from his personal Twitter account. 
One of the tweets that Chipotle asked to be deleted arose from a customer tweet, “Free Chipotle is the best thanks.” The employee responded, “Nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members only make $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really [sic].”

Situation #2: Tom B. is a dedicated member of the marketing team at SocialFit. As part of his role, Tom is active on Twitter.

He constantly tweets with exuberance and excitement, discussing the benefits of club membership with all of the company’s followers. Tom occasionally tweets during off-hours to engage followers who may have missed specific posts, and asks to be compensated for the additional promotion he’s been doing for the club.

Question: Should employees be paid for the work that they do on social media after work hours?

Answer: Thanks to federal and state hour and wage guidelines, the answer is—it depends. The first thing to determine is whether Tom B. is exempt from overtime requirements. If he is, then the salary he’s being paid covers tweets after regular work hours. Exempt employees are paid to complete their job duties, regardless of the number of hours.

If, however, Tom B is an hourly employee, then federal (and many state) wage and hour laws prescribe that he must be paid overtime for hours worked that exceed 40 per week.

In this era of smartphones and remote access to networks, it’s easy for a grey zone to exist when an employee is “off the clock” and away from the club, but still has the ability to send out social media posts.

Therefore, it’s very important for employers to create a clear policy that addresses whether or not work done outside of working hours is allowed.


What Qualities Should You Look for in a Health Club Manager?

Whether you’re a club owner, a current manager, or an aspiring manager, there are many things to think about when considering your management team. 

Managers, and what they bring to your club, come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences—and a successful, cohesive management team should consist of personalities that complement each other. 

Managers Should Have Qualities that Align with Your Club’s Values 

Considering the size and type of health club business you are running, you may have department managers or “general” managers. Do you run a small club with two or three “Jack-of-all-trade” managers, or a larger facility with a dozen managers, each specifically responsible for a department? 

No matter what kind of management structure you have, you want to ensure that each manager has qualities that are in line with your club’s mission and values. 

One of the key ingredients for great health club leadership is visionary thinking and brokering ideas, says Molly Kemmer of EXOS/MediFit and former IHRSA board chair. 

 “View the organization not just as it is today, but also as it needs to be in the future,” she says. “Foster a culture of speaking up, as well as of listening intently, to facilitate this approach.” 

Many departmental mangers will require more specific skills, but all managers should have some level of inherent “people” skills—as general of a term as that may be.  

Specific Qualities You Should Look for in a Manager 

Behind the certifications and equipment and trying to keep up with evolving fitness trends, the health club industry is a compassionate, hospitality driven one. You’re transforming lives, helping people reach goals, celebrate personal victories, and work through defeats. 

In his 2016 IHRSA Institute session “Strategic Planning for Club Executives,” Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3, shared insights from an article he wrote saying the first step to good talent (employees) is to know whom you are looking for.   

“You have to know what type of person you need on a given team based on the other team members to have balance and multiple aptitudes covered… Look for initiative, ownership mentality, adaptability, positive thinking, results orientation, accountability, broad thinking, honesty, integrity, and character.” 

In addition to personality and people skills, consider what technical skills are required to take on a leadership role in your club. 

Should your managers have previous departmental experience or will an all-encompassing knowledge of the health club business suffice, as individual skills will be trained?  Will they be responsible for hiring and training, implementing policies and procedures or budgeting? 

Determine which skills your managers should already have and which you can train. Finding the perfect manager may not be realistic, but finding great managers whose strengths and weaknesses complement and balance each other is an essential part of your clubs’ perfect management team. 

Related reading and resources:  


How to Determine if an Employee Is the Right Fit for Your Health Club 

by Regina Satagaj, vice president of human resources for IHRSA 

If you are going through the time and energy to recruit and hire a new employee for an open position, then there is no doubt your hope is to retain the employee so they can productively contribute to your business. 

Hiring a candidate that will fit in your organization will have a direct impact on employee retention. 

Sometimes, the candidate has the right skills, but will they be the right fit? Starting with the interview process, I concentrate on separating the interview questions into two sections:  

  1. Person-to-Job
  2. Person-to-Organization  

Person-to-Job Fit 

Person-to-Job questions are related to skills, years of experience, and levels of knowledge. In other words, what skills should the employee have to help achieve your strategic plan objectives? 

Asking questions to determine Person-to-Job fit is relatively straightforward. As mentioned in other blog posts, starting with the end in mind and keeping the organizations strategic plan in focus are integral parts of the interview process. 

Person-to-Organization Fit 

Determining Person-to-Organization fit is a bit more challenging. 

Person-to-Organization is defined as “congruence of an individual’s beliefs and values with the culture, norms, and values of an organization.”  

Continue reading "How to Determine if an Employee Is the Right Fit for Your Health Club."

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5 Ways Health Club Managers Can Lead with Confidence

Trish Blackwell, author of The Skinny, Sexy Mind: The Ultimate French Secret kicked off the MACMA conference in Annapolis, MD this week with an inspirational message on leading with confidence.   

The opening reception at MACMA on Wednesday.

During her session, “Confidence Sells: How to Use Confidence to Increase Sales, Reduce Attrition, and Create a World-Class Facility,” Blackwell shared a number of ways to lead with intention and build a culture of confident employees. That message was reinforced by long time IHRSA members, Mitch Wald, Roger Ralph, Allison Flatley, and Bill McBride during their leadership panel discussion.  

What can you do to lead with confidence?  

  1. Be Available: Make sure your staff understand that your doors are always open.
  2. Build Trust: Do what you said you’ll do, when you said you’ll do it!
  3. Affirm Success: A-players need feedback, oftentimes more than anyone else. Say it out loud—don’t assume they know they are doing a good job.
  4. Measure Your Staff Engagement: Use Gallup’s 12 question survey to better understand your staff.
  5. Invest in Your Staff: Give them the knowledge and skills they need to advance their careers.  

Learn how other health club operators recognize their top employees in our “Best Practice” blog post on hiring and staffing.


Strengthen Your Health Club Staff with IHRSA's Professional Development and Management Videos

This feature is brought to you by the IHRSA Store spring sale. Now through June 30, save 25% on reports, webinars, and all other resources in the IHRSA Store by using promo code 2016SALE at checkout. 

A well-trained staff is a pillar of every successful health club, and studies have shown that educated, motivated employees result in higher member engagement and retention. But, unfortunately, many health club owners don’t have the time or resources to properly train their staff. 

To alleviate this pain point, IHRSA has developed a series of Professional Development and Management videos, which make it easy and cost-effective to train staff in all aspects of sales, service, and marketing. 

Titles include: 


  •  Selling Club Memberships (with Karen Woodward)
  •  Managing the Sales Team and Process (with Bill McBride)
  •  Selling Club Services to Corporations (with Bill McBride)
  •  Non-Sales Professional's Guide to Selling Club Services and Products(with Stephen Tharrett) 

Member Service/Retention 

  • Engaging New Members in the Club (with Brent Darden)
  • Creating a Warm and Welcoming Club Environment (with Brent Darden)
  • Creating and Sustaining a Member-Service Culture (with Herb Lipsman)
  • Increasing Membership Retention in the Health and Fitness Industry (with Bill McBride) 


  • Establishing a Powerful Online Presence (with Bill McBride)
  • Branding: Establishing a Promise That Engages the Emotions (with Stephen Tharrett)
  • Marketing: Communicating Your Brand’s Value Proposition (with Stephen Tharrett)
  • Digital Marketing (with Guy Dineen) 

These 12 videos are available in the IHRSA Store in a variety of formats, including DVD and digital download.


Answer These 5 Questions to Hire More Strategically at Your Health Club

Hiring and staffing plays an integral role in any health club’s strategic plan. 

Earlier this month, we discussed the questions you should ask every job candidate at your club. Today, we’re taking a step back to consider the questions health club owners and operators should ask themselves before hiring someone. 

Health Clubs Should Adopt a Strategic Approach to Hiring   

To hire strategically, you should begin with the end in mind, says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. 

“When you do that, you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there,” he says. “So to align, you would define: Who do I need to hire to achieve our strategy? How do I need to train my team to achieve our strategy? What performance metrics do they need to achieve to achieve our strategy?” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.”  

5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Hiring Someone 

Here are the five questions he recommends club owners and operators ask themselves before hiring someone:  

  1. What type of personality do you need to add to your team for it to operate at the highest level of productivity? 
  2. What skills are needed for the team to carry out the strategic mission? 
  3. Based on this candidate’s past performance, is there evidence that he/she will make your site more successful and achieve your strategic goals? 
  4. Does this candidate have enough of the “must be hired with” traits?  
  5. Do they have honesty/integrity? (These are always non-negotiable.)  

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


9 Health Club Employee Benefits Trends 

This feature is brought to you by the IHRSA Store spring sale. Now through June 30, save 25% on reports, webinars, and all other resources in the IHRSA Store by using promo code 2016SALE at checkout. 

The 2015 IHRSA Employee Compensation & Benefits Report contains the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date compensation data in the club industry.

The report is designed to allow a company to easily compare its compensation levels for approximately 50 common job titles in the industry. These job titles include positions in senior management, salaried club-level employees, and hourly club-level employees.

In addition to compensation information, responding companies provided data on employee benefits offered, health insurance practices, retirement plans, vacation, and sick leave. 

The latest report identified nine employee benefits trends for health clubs.  

  1. Most responding companies provide medical insurance to their salaried employees (98%) and hourly employees (71%). On average, companies pay 71% of the premium for salaried club-level employees and 63% of the premium for hourly club-level employees.
  2. Approximately 46% also provide medical insurance to dependents. On average, companies pay for 29% of the family coverage premium for salaried club-level employees and 26% of the family coverage premium for hourly club-level employees.
  3. Of those providing health insurance, the most popular types are PPO (26%), HMO (26%), and high deductible/HSA plans (23%).
  4. On average, responding companies experienced a 4.9% increase in health care premiums from 2013 to 2014.
  5. Nearly 80% of the responding companies offer a retirement plan to employees. Of those companies, a 401(k) plan is 
clearly the most popular type of plan (86% offer one).
  6. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents match employee contributions to the 401(k) plan.
  7. The average number of paid leave days offered to salaried employees ranges from ten for employees with less than one year on the job to 24 days for salaried employees with over ten years tenure.
  8. The average number of paid leave days offered to hourly employees ranges from seven for employees with less than one year on the job to 19 for hourly employees with over ten years tenure.
  9. One-third of the responding companies allow unused vacation to carry over to the next year. Fewer (17%) allow employees to receive compensation for unused sick days. 

This post was excerpted from The 2015 IHRSA Employee Compensation & Benefits Report.