By Amber Cooper, Two-Brain Business COO
You might have heard a lot of noise about the current state of the job market. My favorite article on the subject referred to it as the “great resignation”: People are leaving their jobs at record rates to find more balance, better opportunities and more money. There are lots of opportunities available to job seekers these days.
In the Two-Brain community, gym owners are also talking about how hard it is to recruit new team members, or they’re reporting that they have not been able to retain staff through the pandemic for various reasons.
So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
Now is the time to focus on two things: retention and recruiting.
You’ll always hear our mentors say that if a team member needs to go, don’t wait. Take action. That advice applies regardless of what is happening in the job market.
If you have a strong team you want to retain, start focusing on the things that keep staff members happy.
1. Plan goal reviews with your team members now. Fall is a great time to make sure you know everyone’s aspirations and goals for the coming year. Goal review sessions—or “development conversations”—help you understand what your team members are focusing on and what they need. When you know that, you can address needs and plan for future changes.
2. Look at the rates people are paying in your market for similar staff roles. I do this every year to reassure myself that we are paying fairly or to find out if we need to adjust. If you discover you have some room to improve, imagine how effective it would be to say, “I’ve noticed the work you do, and I want to give you X.” You can also approach those who have some room to grow and give them something to strive for. For example: “Here is this thing I want you to focus on for the next three months. If you are able to hit this target or performance goal, I can raise your rate to X.” If you hire contractors rather than employees, use goal review sessions to determine if additional roles can be added to increase their pay.
3. Re-examine your own leadership. The No. 1 reason people leave their jobs: their managers. Can you say you are the best leader you can be? Focusing on your development as a leader is always a good investment. There are so many education programs and opportunities to learn. Each quarter, take the time to identify one area in which you want to grow as a leader, and then focus your efforts.
In a tough market, you must become an active recruiter. You can no longer rely on posting a job and reviewing stacks of applications. You need to make recruitment and succession planning part of your regular routine as owner.
1. Assess what you are actually hiring for and your environment. Is your compensation competitive in the market? Is your “offer” fair and reasonable? Is your environment one people will want to work in? If you lose people often, start by evaluating your environment and the offer before you jump into hiring. Recruiting, hiring and re-hiring before you solve the problems will create a negative reputation in the market and make it tough to find people in the future.
2. ABR: Always be recruiting. Even when you don’t have vacancies, watch for suitable candidates in your community. I’ve carried around “recruitment” or business cards to hand out to people I saw giving excellent service or performing well in the community: “If you are ever looking for work, look me up.” The excellent person might not be looking now but might think of you in the future.
3. Create a system for succession and the development of less skilled candidates who have the personality and work ethic you value. Can you offer work experience or training programs to help people grow? Remember, you don’t have to hire them at the end of the day; they are just signing up for an opportunity to learn a skill or for training. Keep labor laws in mind for this one: Just because they are interns and in training doesn’t mean it’s “free.”
4. Develop an ongoing relationship with sources of talent. Do you have a college or university near you that would allow you to take on students who are looking for experience? Are there new-immigrant organizations that are looking to retrain people coming into the country? Can you connect with youth or government organizations that offer work experience or grant programs for summer work? Is there a veterans organization near you looking to retrain or provide work-experience opportunities for its members? Also consider niche groups that have people looking for alternative and part-time work: mothers groups, the AARP (membership starts at 50, but they have younger members, too) and so on. A small time investment with these organizations could lead you to some really skilled talent.
The reality is that many of the things you do to build your brand in the community will also help with retention and recruitment. When your business is well regarded by clients and prospective clients, potential staff members will likely hold the same opinion.
You can also make your business more attractive to staff by regularly asking questions like this:
- “What will make this a great place to work?”
- “Why would a team member want to stay here?”
Here’s the great news: Fitness entrepreneurs are in a space candidates want to be in. More than ever, people are looking for purpose in their work. Improving health and personal well-being offers that purpose.
You also have an established community candidates can be part of: A tightly knit group of smiling, happy, hardworking people. A microgym has great things to offer that other larger organizations simply can’t.
By proactively focusing on retention and recruitment, you’ll create an attractive business that will be able to outlast any challenges in the job market.