How to retain good staff

How To Retain Good Staff

How do you keep good employees? Today, more and more companies are struggling to find the answer.

Current research tells us that personal growth, recognition and fulfillment are more important than money to an employee who is deciding whether to stay or go. The trend in the marketplace has employees jumping from job to job, company to company’ at the drop of a hat. The fitness industry is facing the same crisis as other industries when looking to keep star performers. In a job market where warm bodies are scarce, how do you hold on to that dynamite program manager when the rest of the world wants her? The answer is simple: Create a retention-focused environment that centers on staff and management as a team whose mission and vision are strategically aligned.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a comprehensive training program. Most employees will stay with a company if they feel they will receive not only on-the-job training, but also a chance to learn new skills and explore new career paths. Begin the process early with an orientation where new employees are introduced to the policies, procedures and philosophy of your organization. Remember to incorporate the culture and work environment where your on-site staff will be working. Something so simple as which holiday leave schedule your employee follows - yours or the client’s can be confusing. Detail this kind of information in a company handbook and distribute it at the new employee orientation.

Next, establish an opportunity for each employee to create a personal development plan with their supervisor that will facilitate professional growth. Try to adopt a training program that aligns the individual’s career goals with the organization’s strategic imperatives. This gives clarity to your employees on your business strategy and direction, and intensifies the employee’s focus and job satisfaction.

Finally, incorporate a program that fosters professional development by providing monetary stipends for employees to use toward seminars, professional associations, certifications, continuing education courses, exams and conferences. This ongoing training will allow employees to stay abreast of industry trends and provide a continuing career development resource.

Ask employees to spell success, and they’ll answer f·e·e·d·b·a·c·k. Most employees will tell you that the unclear expectations of supervisors and senior management are one of the top three “de-motivators” in the workplace. Begin the evaluation process with a detailed job description that is reviewed by the employee and their manager. Then, schedule bi-annual or yearly performance evaluations. Design your appraisal tool to acknowledge the employee’s contribution to the organization, to highlight opportunities for improvement, to identify new skills needed for promotion, and to set goals for the coming year. It is equally important to invite client liaisons to contribute feedback on the staff's performance throughout the year and specifically during the appraisal process.

Recognizing an employee’s accomplishments is the single greatest contribution in winning employee commitment to your organization. Employees need to feel that they are essential to the organization and that their role in the day-to-day operation is critical to the success of the company. But how do you recognize and reward employees if you don’t have the resources to financially compensate your entire workforce? Most workplace experts agree that money isn’t the best motivator for most individuals. The goal, they say, is to create an atmosphere where recognition is seen as sincere, is given in a timely fashion, and is communicated effectively. Some recognition strategies that work are:

  • Verbal or written praise
  • Promotions or job advancements
  • Pre-paid industry conferences or workshops
  • Awards and recognition programs such as employee of the month

Remember that your staff will appreciate the pat on the back and being told of a job well done. But if no one hears it, what good is it? Corporate wellness companies need to remember to publicize employee accomplishments to clients and co-workers to ensure that stellar employees aren’t overlooked.

In a retention-focused environment everyone from senior managers to entry-level fitness specialists should be made to feel important. But who has the time? By instituting a mentoring program, companies can focus on everyone’s needs without straining resources. Typically, a “mentor” forms a relationship with a “protege” (a new employee) and offers advice, job guidance and professional direction. The new employee benefits from the mentor’s attention and gets that immediate connection to the company. At the same time, the mentor is being challenged by having to think in new ways about company policies and procedures. Mentoring is a “win-win” situation, and, if implemented properly, can ensure that every employee will become a “great” employee.

By creating a “TEAM” approach to retention, any organization can hold on to star performers. Not only will you keep great employees, but you’ll also be able to provide your clients with a consistent and reliable staff.

A TEAM Approach to Retention by Gail Fast, M.A.