It’s widely accepted across industries that happy employees are more productive. So whether you own a studio or gym, cultivating happy, empowered instructors ensures your team will be more creative, engaged, and invested in helping your business grow. Below, we share a few ideas to make your instructors feel valued.

Most savvy teachers in this day and age know they need to make themselves into a brand to help bring in more clients to their studio and create more visibility and community for the respective business. Take advantage of this when you create flyers, email blasts, online posts, or other marketing materials for a class by including photos of the instructor and tagging their social media handles. You can also simply repost a photo directly from an employee’s account even if doesn’t directly pertain to a class on the schedule.

Allow teachers to make announcements about one-on-one instruction opportunities, and let them use the studio when it’s available for personal training. Most of the time, members will simply use a couple of private lessons to get questions answered about how to refine their group or at-home workouts. Additionally, if you help your instructors grow their own social followings, they’ll bring more people to your studio. Last, and most importantly, your team members will feel as though you care about them and their futures.

It’s fairly common for gyms to pay teachers on a scale according to their certifications and experience. At a minimum, make sure you are familiar with what similar businesses in your area are paying so your employees feel their salaries are fair. If you can afford it, paying $1.00/hour above the market average will make you stand out among competitors. It’s not about the money as it’s much as it’s about employees feeling as though you’re exceeding expectations.

In addition to salary, you can support your instructors by offering to pay for training and certifications. The American Council on Exercise offers a variety of in-person classes and online workshops.

Some of your teachers may be thinking about learning some new skills, but just haven’t yet because they haven’t had the time to do the research. You can do it for them. Once a month, find some kind of workshop that you think would appeal to your employees and send it out in an email with an offer to pay. By highlighting one particular training, your employees are more likely to do it together which will encourage bonding among the team. You can also send out a survey gauging interest in a training at the studio like CPR certification. If enough people are interested, you can turn it into an event with food after.

Research has found that group exercise instructors are at a high risk for injury because of the number of classes they teach. The industry standard is now no more than 12 classes per week and no more than two high-impact classes on any given day. That being said, every instructor is different. Some people feel they can teach 15 classes a week without a problem. This number, of course, changes depending on how active the instructor is during each class. Still, it’s important that your teachers know you do not want them pushing themselves beyond what’s comfortable. If a teacher calls in sick, for example, and you’re reaching out to another teacher to take his or her place, make sure you let them know you understand if they are unable to take it on at the last minute. Self-care is key!

Health insurance and paid vacation are, of course, significant incentives for employees to stay working hard at any business. But we know it can be difficult for a small studio to provide these perks. There are plenty of other ways to go the extra mile. You can offer free membership for one family member per instructor, a discount (such as 20 percent) on merchandise, and readily available snacks like protein bars or fruit.

Beyond that, keep your employees in mind for small surprises throughout the year. Sign up for Groupon blasts and consider purchasing massage discounts, a gift certificate that can be used on a group lunch for the team, or just some coupons for the movies. Even a one sentence, handwritten Thank You card included with these sorts of gifts will give them a personal touch. Another unexpected, but appreciated offer is businesses cards for each instructor. An added benefit is that you can place the studio’s logo on the cards which will serve as promotion for you too.

One of the most timeless ways to keep instructors happy is to encourage them to share their opinions on what is and isn’t working at your studio. This will fuel their creativity, and make them more committed to the growth of your business.

Every three or six months, arrange for a group lunch with your instructors to gather feedback. Help them prepare by sending out a short survey ahead of time ranking the equipment and the classes, among any other aspects of the studio you’re thinking about changing. In addition, give them ample space on the survey to provide their own ideas. Over lunch, go over the questions with the team and brainstorm. You can also offer to meet one-on-one with anyone who has additional concerns or ideas that aren’t covered during the group meeting.  Your instructors will feel valued, and you’ll get insight you wouldn’t have otherwise on how to improve the studio.