Guest Column - April 2007
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Keep Your Stars

Association Guest Column: International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association

By Kristen A. Walsh

7. BEWARE OF BURNOUT When an employee leaves, managers often rely on existing staff to pick up the extra workload. In the short term, staff members may be happy about making extra money. "However, if vacant positions aren't filled quickly, this can cause burnout, deterioration of morale and additional turnover," noted Suzanne Berthay, president of HR Pro Shop, a fitness industry HR consulting firm.

8. ENCOURAGE INVOLVEMENT. According to the IHRSA Guide to Membership Retention, club members who are involved in a variety of activities and have regular member-to-member interactions are more likely to remain members. The same concept applies to employee retention.

"Those who are more involved and invested in the company for which they work may be more likely to communicate any discontent and allow their employer the time to propose a solution," White explained. "Those who are not involved or invested in anything beyond their eight-hour day are more likely to walk away without looking back."

Encourage employees to get involved with fundraisers, social events, committees and other business units within the organization, she advised.

9. OFFER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH. "When you provide employees with growth opportunities, you give them the peace of mind of knowing that if they needed to leave for any reason, they would be employable," explained Fred Mael, an organizational psychologist and consultant who specializes in employee and customer retention. "It's the person who feels trapped who is more likely to leave or disengage while still on your payroll."

Make cross-training opportunities available to employees from the time they begin in any routine position, such as at the front desk, so that they become knowledgeable about all aspects of your business and can better contribute to the facility's overall success.

10. KNOW WHEN TO SAY GOODBYE. "Don't keep new employees for longer than a brief trial period if they are having difficulty maintaining relationships with staff or members, or if their demeanor shows signs of boredom with their role or impatience with your program," Devereux cautioned.

11. CONDUCT EXIT INTERVIEWS. This will help you determine the cause of turnover and make improvements. Although problems with supervisors are a major factor in turnover, exit surveys done on the employee's last day of work almost never turn up these issues, Mael noted. "Those employees with the foresight not to burn their bridges with a company or jeopardize future positive references will generally not mention their problems with the boss on the way out the door. In fact, exit interviews that take place months later, when employees are secure in their new jobs, elicit more candor."

Of course, some employee turnover is inevitable and can even be considered a positive development. For example, people move, retire, start their own businesses, change careers or decide to stay home to raise their children.

"We understand that people aren't going to stay here for the rest of their lives," said John Atwood, also an owner of HealthFit. "We want to create an experience for them so that when they leave, they can say, 'I really made a contribution.'"


Kristen A. Walsh manages, the fitness industry employment site for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). She can be reached via e-mail to For more information, visit