Here are eight tips to ensure your business supports a professional working environment that protects your trainers and members:
1. Hire trainers who are certified by recognized, national organizations that have policies addressing professionalism.
For example, the American Council on Exercise’s code of ethics requires its certified professionals to "establish and maintain clear professional boundaries."
2. During the interview process, ask trainers what they would do if they were asked out on a date by an attractive client.
Also, be sure to call an applicant's previous employers to learn why the applicant is seeking other opportunities. You may learn that the trainer has a habit of getting romantically involved with clients.
3. Enact a sexual harassment policy and consider providing training to prevent sexual harassment.
Effective October 9, 2018, New York State joins California, Connecticut, and Maine in requiring such training. In an era with more and more allegations of sexual harassment coming to light, you may not want to wait until your state mandates harassment training. Not sure what the policy should look like? Look at New York’s model harassment policy.
4. Before you establish a policy prohibiting trainers from dating clients, find out whether that’s legal in your state.
Some states have laws prohibiting businesses from discriminating against employees for engaging in lawful, off-duty conduct—e.g., dating. However, if your business can demonstrate that such conduct negatively affects an individual's job performance, it may constitute grounds for dismissal.
5. Upon being hired, let your trainers know, should they become romantically involved with a client, you prefer or require the client switches to another trainer.
This practice is more likely to be accepted if your trainers feel like part of a team instead of feeling like they are competing to bring in the most revenue.
6. Establish and enforce a strict policy regarding the confidentiality of personal information, which would apply to information a client shares with a trainer.