A Little Recognition Goes A Long Way in Keeping Employees Happy

One can learn a great deal during a cross-country flight.

In fact, on my trip from Boston to San Diego for the iClubs Conference, I learned quite a few things thanks to JetBlue.

You Can Learn A Lot On A Cross Country Flight Agoglia's Inspiration Came Courtesy Of Jet Blue AirlinesThe first thing I learned came while flipping around the 36 DirecTV stations available on the flight. Apparently, many people are still looking for the 10 (or eight or six) minute shortcut to six pack abs; at least that's what I gathered from eight infomercials on at the same time. And those that aren't looking for a six pack are probably interested in eating, according to the other six infomercials on at that time.

But perhaps the best lesson learned was from JetBlue directly, and it is something that almost every independent health club owners can probably learn from as well.

Just prior to closing the doors before take-off, an airline official came on board to make an announcement. No, we weren't being delayed and there was nothing wrong with the airplane, instead the airline official had a different message: He had jumped on the plane to commemorate one of the flight attendant's 10th anniversary with the company. It was a simple act, but it was a nice gesture to make in front of other employees and a plane full of passengers.

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In today's job market it is rare for employees to stay with one company for that long. It is more rare for someone to stay at a health club for that long. But, what is most rare, is that club owners and managers go out of their way to acknowledge employees in front of their co-workers, let alone the members they serve every day.

Studies show that a majority of employees say that they are more appreciative and motivated from acknowledgement of a job well done than they are money, yet club owners are faced with high employee turnover and struggle for ways to keep their best and brightest employees without breaking the bank.

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Perhaps health club owners can learn a thing or two from JetBlue on how to not only keep customers happy and loyal, but keep employees happy and loyal as well.

By the way Sarah, the flight attendant celebrating her anniversary with JetBlue, was congratulated by just about every person on that flight. I wonder how many would make that connection without something as special as being recognized publicly for a job well done.

Tips on Implementing an Employee Recognition Program

1. Don't just make it about monetary goals. Let employees know that you value them going above and beyond to keep members happy. Recognize attendance, anniversaries and personal achievements.

2. Set up different levels of recognition and standards by which to judge employees. Allow other staff members, supervisors and members have input, helping to legitimize and expand the reaches of the program.

3. Make sure that everyone on staff knows when an employee receives recognition. The "fame" will keep not only the employee receiving the acknowledgement happy, it will encourage others to attain it as well.

4. Let the members in on it. Mention the employee recognition to members. Post it on your website, include it in member newsletters, tweet it and post it on your Facebook page. This will build a connection between members and employees.

5. Stay consistent. Nothing will sap the morale you're trying to build among your health club employees than dangling a carrot and not delivering in the end.


John Agoglia has spent nearly two decades either working in health clubs or writing about them. He currently writes for several digital and print publications in and out of the fitness industry.

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