Create and Maintain a Safe Work Environment

One common thread of creating and maintaining a quality work environment is that management ensures staff members have a safe and harassment-free environment.

ONE OF THE most vital aspects of any business is the importance of creating and maintaining a quality work environment. Although this means different things to different people, one common thread is that management ensures that staff members have a safe and harassment-free environment.

A view from the top

You can do many things to ensure that a safe environment exists at your facility. Initially, it starts at the top, meaning that you are educated in how to develop a safe work environment, and that your actions and behavior consistently demonstrate to staff that you will enforce and reinforce this type of positive culture.

Remember that harassment comes in many forms, and is carried out in different ways. Sexual harassment, along with various forms of intimidation, are, unfortunately, two of the most common forms of harassment in the fitness center/spa workplace. These can be inflicted from staff member to staff member, customer to staff member or staff member to customer. Some in management may not be certain how to deal with harassment when it is carried out by a customer toward a staff member. However, in every case, your obligation is to deal with this type of behavior swiftly and within the law.

Zero tolerance

The first thing a leader should do is to have a clear, written policy in place that specifically spells out what is expected from every employee. Not only should this policy describe what they should do in the event they are harassed, but it should also describe your expectations about their behavior. When new employees are hired, they should be trained in the policy, and given an opportunity to ask questions. By being proactive, you will eliminate most, if not all, issues and problems.

Leadership should establish a "zero tolerance" approach to dealing with offenders. Everyone, whether staff or customers, needs to know that if they are found to be harassing or intimidating someone while at your place of business, they will face the consequences.

Harassment often starts out subtly and then escalates. Initially, someone may make an off-color remark or make a personal comment about how someone looks. While these things may not seem like harassment, in some individual's eyes, if it is unwanted or offensive, it is harassment.

Information is power

Staff and customers should know that everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and that the highest degree of professionalism is expected. Management should conduct proper background checks on prospective staff to ensure that only quality team members are hired. If you take the time to learn about someone's past behavior, usually you will have more information about whether an individual has the type of character you want as part of your team.

Creating a safe and harassment-free work environment requires that staff always feel that management is approachable. To do this, make sure everyone knows that you maintain an "open-door policy," especially when someone feels intimidated or harassed. It is often difficult for someone to speak up about this type of situation, so you need to make sure they feel comfortable speaking with you, and know you will be discreet, yet willing to confront the issue, regardless of the outcome.

Good for business

Creating a safe and harassment-free work environment is good business. Staff will want to work for you, and this means customers will keep coming back. Not only will you have great, reliable staff, but customers will also sense that staff members are happy with leadership.

Whether it's a spa technician, personal trainer, front desk attendant or any other team member, leaders have an obligation to ensure staff is safe at the workplace. Establishing clear guidelines, training, monitoring, having an open-door policy and following up on reports are all vital to ensure you promote and maintain a harassment-free environment.

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