Once you’ve found talent, how do you ensure you’re creating the best possible experience? While personal circumstances of each individual instructor, staff member or trainer may be out of your control, you should put effort into setting your staff up for success to your best ability. Read on for tips to maximize the experience at your fitness venue, in hopes of prolonging your staff tenure.

Cover continuing education

The best instructors are the ones who are up to date on the latest trends and what’s going on in the broader fitness community. Help them out by covering the continuing education credits they need to keep their certifications current. The same goes for your staff — do you employ a marketing expert? Send them to marketing conferences. The more they learn, the better for their experience, as well as yours.

Create team-building opportunities

You want your instructors to feel like they’re part of a community just as much as you want your clients to feel this way. Treat your instructors as though they’re part of a team, not independent contractors who come in, teach their classes and leave. Organize social activities, such as checking out another studio together or perhaps a team happy hour to encourage employees to get to know each other.

Train them well from the beginning

Retention starts from the second you hire an instructor. Often, fractures happen in a work environment because of miscommunication. Invest time in your employee training to ensure that your talent is clear of what is expected of them. But don’t just make a list of what they shouldn’t do. Be sure to spell out any opportunities you have for growth for them, too.

Shout them out on social media

Who doesn’t like a little recognition? Consider creating a series of trainer spotlights on social media where you do mini-profiles of your instructors — or let them do an Instagram Story takeover so they can share a day in the life and connect with more of your clients. 

Challenge your staff

Taking a risk on your instructors shows them that you believe in them. Does one of your instructors currently teach strength classes but is interested in exploring HIIT classes? It’s always easier to train internally than hire externally. Give your trainers opportunities to explore new class formats, letting them take on the classes first with community classes and then classes at less-busy times.

Utilize meetings

Having regular meetings — whether one-on-one with each of your trainers or team meetings — can help with regular communication and making sure you’re on the same page. Ask about career goals and how you can help your employees reach them. If you’re not regularly having these meetings yet, set up coffees with each of your employees this week.

Consider setting up team brainstorm meetings where you ask them to help you explore a particular business challenge. Looking outside yourself and your leadership team may help you consider a solution you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Ask for feedback

No matter how many of these strategies you put into place, ultimately you will still lose staff eventually for various reasons. Turn this into a learning opportunity by conducting an exit interview and asking them why they’re leaving. The first step is to encourage an ‘open door’ policy and make yourself available for their insight in different ways (reviews, anonymous collection, written communication, etc.). Use this feedback to inform your future retention strategies.

Encourage creativity from all levels

Does your front desk employee have a great idea for a new class format or your star trainer have an idea about how to streamline one of your processes? Encourage your staff to speak up when they have ideas and consider input from all areas of your organization — you never know when someone might come up with the next great vision.

Give them flexibility in their schedule

To the best of your ability, empower your instructors and staff to create schedules that work best for them. Everyone knows when they work best, and you’ll have instructors performing at their peak. Plus, you can help them stack classes if that’s what they prefer — it could be tricky leading a 6 a.m. class and then having to come back to teach at 11 a.m. A small change for you could make a big impact on an employee.

For an instructor, looking for a new opportunity also requires time and energy. The bottom line — happy employees stay, so do what you can to understand their needs. For more instructor insights, subscribe to our After Class newsletter.

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