Protect Your Gym With A Clearly Written Employee Handbook

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  • Protect Your Gym With A Clearly Written Employee Handbook

Do you have an employee handbook for your gym? In my opinion, having a handbook is extremely important and relevant for large clubs and small clubs alike. As the boss it’s important to play your cards close to your chest, to maintain control. However, having the rules and definitions out in the open is something that gets everyone “singing from the same hymn sheet”.

It’s critical for staff to know how to handle difficult situations and feel confident in their actions. If boundaries aren’t clearly stated, your staff could fall into the miserable habit of passing the buck and ducking the blame at every turn. When employees know what the rules are there’s more accountability and willingness to take responsibility for decisions.

A well-written employee handbook helps you to step back and delegate the day-to-day operations. Then you can work on the things that are important to building your business.

Required ReadingEmployee Manual with cover that says "Read the Manual - Instructions, Help & Advice"

Any time you commission a document that employees have to sign, you need to make sure it’s written to the highest possible standards. Templates and standard-form handbooks are widely available to customize a handbook to your particular needs. But it’s essential to have your company counsel sign off before any of the staff even see it.

Your staff has to read it. Can I make this point any clearer? The whole point of an employee handbook is that nobody can make excuses or plead ignorance. Just knowing that they have agreed to the rules seems to make employees a little more responsible. It has to be part of the on-boarding process and the hiring check. Once they have read it, have them sign a written acknowledgement.

Worth Doing And Doing Right

If you set up your terms clearly at the start of employment, it makes it simpler for everyone to fit into his or her roles. A handbook is a tool to define acceptable behavior and where the boundaries are.

It may seem like your terms and conditions are obvious and they don’t need explaining. Unfortunately, assuming everyone understands your point of view and requirements is a surefire way to have expensive problems caused by misunderstandings and misinterpretations, unintentional and otherwise.

Topics To Include

  • General Information

You can include things like company values, mission statement, and vision. These are not just corporate buzzwords, if they are set up well they’ll work to build a sense of purpose and briefly state your needs and expectations. You may decide not to print them explicitly but it’s worth taking a little time to decide what these should be.

Take a page to explain what the gym’s history is and what you want to achieve. It always helps if there’s a common narrative to an organization, particularly for new staff when they first join the team. If you don’t take control of the narrative as the owner, one will form anyway and you may be shut out of it.

  • Scheduling

State the procedures for switching shifts and requesting time off.

  • Equal Opportunity Employer Anti-discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy

Do yourself a huge favor and put the policy in writing these are very dangerous minefields.

  • Rules of Conduct

State the rules clearly along with consequences for violations.

  • Acknowledgement

Once new employees read the handbook, they should have to sign an acknowledgement form stating that they’ve done so and understand what they’ve read. As bureaucratic as this may seem, it can prevent trouble down the road.

Don’t Wait Until Your Goose is Cooked

There are a lot of sources for information on employee handbooks, such as the Small Business Administration. Pro Forma templates are available on the web. You can have them customized easily with your input.

If you haven’t done so already start preparing an employee handbook. It really is the one thing that can set the boundaries and clarify how employees have to behave, not just in critical situations but every day you’re in business. That will make the ride smoother for everyone in your company, especially you.

Sources:
http://www.sba.gov/content/employee-handbooks
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/75420514/Gym-Employee-Form
http://www.entrepreneur.com/formnet/form/612
Over to you…

Do you have an official employee handbook for your fitness business?

If not, what is stopping you?

If so, have you found the employee handbook to be a protective shield in a certain circumstance?

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