As a gym owner, you have likely been concerned with keeping the fears of your paying members at bay in the post-COVID-19 world. You probably have spent the mandatory lockdown coming up with ways to maneuver your business through the crisis and putting plans in place for your grand reopening strategy once the stay at home orders are lifted.
But what about your employees? Many workers are facing huge numbers of uncertainties surrounding their jobs, as well as worrying about their own health and that of their families.
Now is the time to plan how you will address your employees’ fears and keep your business running smoothly and safely for everyone involved. Below are some of the most common worries shared by workers right now.
Sanitation and Cleaning Policies
Your staff wants to know that they will be safe upon their return to work. Perhaps more importantly, they need assurance that they will not be bringing COVID-19 home to their families after a day at work.
While advertising new, strict cleaning and sanitization policies is a great way to make gym members feel safe to come back and work out, actually enforcing those policies and staying on top of developments as they happen behind the scenes is what will make your staff feel like you have their health and wellness as a top priority.
Social Distancing Practices
Do you plan on allowing your employees to wear masks and gloves while they work? Will they be permitted to stay a safe distance away from clients? Is it possible to designate areas of your gym for one employee to manage, so they can somewhat isolate themselves while at work?
If so, tell your employees of these options ahead of time. Assuring them that they will have safe zones and personal protective equipment goes a long way toward reassuring your staff that you care about their health and safety.
Job and Income Security
"Do I have a job to come back to?"
"Will I be paid on time, or has business suffered enough that there will be payment delays?
"Will there be salary decreases or layoffs?"
"Bills have piled up during the mandated lockdown period. Is there an option to receive advance pay once I return to work?"
These are just a few of the questions churning through the heads of workers across almost every industry right now.
No one can make these decisions for you, as you are the one who is in the position to determine what is the right path for your business moving forward. Therefore, no one is more qualified than you to address these concerns and answer these questions directly to your staff.
Making the effort to be as transparent and honest as possible with your employees is the best move, even if your gym is facing possible upcoming hardships.
Employee Leave Guidelines
Some staff members may have children who are still home from school or daycare even after you reopen your gym and expect everyone to return to work. Others may have sick family members they need to care for. Still others could have underlying conditions or known immunocompromisation that would necessitate them staying away from work for a while longer while the dust settles from the COVID-19 peak.
Make leave options clear and fair to all employees. They should understand not only what situations they may be facing upon return, but also what will happen to their jobs should they feel the need to take extended leave. It’s understandable that you cannot hold job positions indefinitely while you wait for your employees to return, but making this limitation clear from the start will help each employee make an informed decision about what’s best for their health, their family, and their job.
Some businesses are allowing employees to volunteer to work more hours or take on public-facing job duties in order to pick up the slack left by employees who cannot fulfil those job duties currently. If you have one loyal staff member who requires some leave to care for a child home from school, allow others to step forward and band together as a team to fill that gap. It not only keeps your business operations moving forward with people who already know your policies, it also helps build team morale and trust.
Learning New Policies and New Job Responsibilities
Evey new cleaning protocol, member management strategy, and restructured schedule gives your employees something new to remember. Employees who are expected to enforce cleanliness rules to gym members, for example, will likely require special training to make sure they understand how best to do this brand new job function.
It could be helpful to print out any new guidelines and post them in visible areas for both gym staff and members to look over freely. This can help on several levels:- It serves as a reminder and useful reference if employees forget a policy or have any questions.- It provides enforceable guidelines for your members to point to if they need help getting members to comply.- It reassures both staff and members that you have taken the situation seriously and enacted several new policies to help everyone stay safe and healthy.
The Key is Transparency, Transparency, Transparency
While it might be in your nature, as a gym owner or manager, to play your cards close to the chest and expect your staff to fall in line, that strategy will likely cause more problems than it solves during this time of fear and uncertainty.
Remember, your employees want to do their jobs well, they want to have job security and stability, and they want to do whatever is necessary to keep themselves and others healthy. They also want to know that you have their best interests at heart as you make the decisions that are right for navigating your business through the crisis.
The more transparent you can be about the situation your business is facing, the factors at play, and the likely outcomes your employees can expect, the more your employees will repay that transparency in kind with their ongoing cooperation and dedication.