Navigating Health Club Staffing During Coronavirus Closures

As payrolls take a hit, explore your options before planning your health club’s path forward.

The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 has created a quickly changing business environment. From the onset, employers worldwide have been faced with making quick decisions in a uniquely challenging landscape. New hurdles continue to arise, especially as businesses are forced to shut down operations with very little advance notice to plan.

How should employers handle employee relations when operations have come to a slowdown or a complete stop?

Of course, the first priority is to ensure safe and secure work environments to keep your employees from harm. Once employee safety is assured, it is important to “protect your teams, pay fairly, and look into government assistance,” said Colin Grant, CEO of Pure International Group, during a webinar called “Coronavirus Conversations: Club Operations Part 2.”

Staffing sunlight meeting stock column

Get in Protection Mode for Your Teams

Not only are employees managing the uncertainties of COVID-19, but they are also grappling with effects on their jobs and the impact on their daily lives and families.

According to World at Work CEO Scott Cawood, “Leading by understanding that our employees are not enduring this pandemic just as employees but as a whole person will help you see and provide more options to support them in.”

Remember that your top priority is to protect your people, members, clients, and the community.

Start by communicating with your team by creating a strategy for sharing information factually and effectively. A poll by World at Work found that 29% of the 143 employers surveyed are communicating with their employees daily on COVID-19-related topics.

Pay Fairly Amid a Changing Landscape

Global employers of all sizes—small, medium, and large—will have a different capacity to pay employees. Employers should consider employee morale, and state, national, and federal laws before implementing pay changes.

Take a look at your staff by role or structure, and pay on a scale to help your business through a challenging time.

If considering furloughs or layoffs, understanding all the options available to you is crucial. IHRSA has produced a “Questions to Ask Before Laying Off Your Staff” checklist that provides useful information and legal requirements to consider for the choices that health club owners have when it comes to downsizing during a pandemic.

You can learn more about hazard pay, salary increases, bonus payouts, and other options organizations are turning to during this global upheaval in this article by World at Work.

Adam Sloustcher, an attorney at Fisher & Phillips, also addressed the difference between furloughs and layoffs, as well as details of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in an IHRSA webinar on staffing and legal FAQs.

Look into Government Assistance

It’s time to educate yourself and your staff on local, state, federal laws and relief opportunities in your country that can assist you during this time to pay your staff.

The U.S. government passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March offering a wide range of assistance, which has been broken down by IHRSA. Small businesses will be eligible for loans up to $10 million and loan forgiveness. Medium-sized businesses are being offered loans on conditions including retaining 90% of their workforce and no outsourcing or revoking collective bargaining agreements.

Most states offer their own individual business aid plans, explained by IHRSA, while workforce experts say employers should shore up their work-from-home agreements and revisit sick leave requirements should any employee miss work because of a coronavirus diagnosis, according to Forbes. Other countries such as France, Denmark, Ireland, U.K., and Canada have implemented wage subsidies ranging from 60-80% over arranging unemployment schemes with various rules.

No matter the size of your business, there’s a path forward for your club. By researching all of your options, you can explore the possibilities to retain staff and reopen when the time comes.

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Regina Satagaj

Regina Satagaj previously served as IHRSA's Vice President of Human Resources—a position that handled recruitment, compensation, benefits, performance management, and employee relations.