Train Your Staff to Retain Your Staff

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Advanced Workout TrackingFinding, hiring and retaining great staff members is costly and time consuming – and one of the most important components of running a successful business. Your staff members are much more than coaches or trainers. They represent the brand of your business, sell and market for you, and help you deliver great experiences to your members. If your staff delivers, your business thrives.

Apart from finding and hiring great people, retaining them creates a major challenge for small businesses. Employees, and especially millennials, are more likely to job hop and look for a company that fits an increasingly complex set of needs. Employees leave their jobs for a lot of reasons, but a 2014 workplace study conducted by BambooHR, found that the number one reason people leave companies is because of a lack of opportunities for advancement. If you read this simply, it sounds like if don’t promote your people, they’ll leave.

This is only partially true.

Advancement does mean providing promotion and leadership opportunities, and it also means providing coaching and personal development so your employees can access the skills they need to master their roles. The Harvard Business Review conducted a study of millennials in the workforce and noted that, “Millennials want more help with their personal development.” And Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, notes that the most lasting and impactful way to motivate and engage employees is to tap into the intrinsic motivation factors of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

Give your employees ownership of their work and day-to-day schedule, develop their skills so they feel well equipped to succeed, and share your vision for your business frequently so they can align themselves with, and find meaning in the work they do for you. Tapping these internal motivational factors changes the conversations you have with employees and clearly communicates to them the value they provide to your business.

For this post, I want to focus in on the second two points – Mastery and Purpose – and assert that to retain your staff, you need to train your staff. Yes, training takes time and attention, and if you’re like most small business owners, both are resources you probably do not possess in abundance. But challenge yourself to change your view of training.

Training is an investment

By training your staff you are not only helping them get better at their jobs and in turn, providing better experiences to your customers, you’re also communicating to them that they matter to you and your business. In other words, you’re not only helping them achieve mastery, you’re also giving them and their work purpose. And to train effectively, I recommend following these four points:

  • Have a curriculum/plan.

    Sit down and think about what you need your staff to know. Once you’ve answered the questions below, write out your thoughts on each topic. You’ll want this documents for future new hires.

    • What do they need to know about your business?
    • Your members?
    • Your community?
    • Your history?
    • Your vision?
    • Your philosophy?
  • Train consistently.

    You cannot train a new staff member once and expect him or her to internalize everything you share. Have a consistent training plan in place and even better, a predictable cadence for training that you and your staff can plan for. For example, we hold weekly 1:1s, a weekly best practices sharing meeting and a weekly team meeting with a focus on training. We also huddle for five minutes every morning. It might sound like a lot but it doesn’t feel that way. It ensures consistent and timely updates and coaching opportunities.

  • Mix your training modalities.

    People learn in many different ways. By diversifying your training modalities you run a better chance of tapping into what works for your employees and delivering content to them that will stick. Sometimes you need a PowerPoint, sometimes role-play activities work better, and sometimes you need to create games and activities that make it high energy and fully engaging.

  • Test your employees, but make testing fun.

    Once a section of your content is delivered, you need to make sure it sticks. To do this, I recommend testing. You can do this the old-fashioned way and deliver small quizzes along the way, or you can test using role-plays.

These are just a few ideas to keep your employees engaged and lower employee turnover. I’d love to hear from you in our comments section. What have you seen work? What do your employees say about the training you’ve provided? Keeping your team members is an important part of building an amazing fitness community.


Having a well-trained passionate staff is key to keeping your members happy. Get tips to retain your valued members in our latest eBook, 7 Essential Strategies for Member Retention.

gym member retention guide

Phil Stern

Phil Stern, Director of Sales
Zen Planner

Phil Stern is in his second stint living in Colorado and keeps getting drawn back to the state as an avid mountain biker, skier and climber. When not in the mountains or on the trails, he’s training at his local CrossFit® box. Professionally, Phil came to Zen Planner from a big software company based in Boston and currently serves at Zen Planner’s Director of Sales.

One response to “Train Your Staff to Retain Your Staff”

  1. Phil,

    Great article! This is really a critical area that not enough businesses are focusing on to sustain their growth and keep folks excited each day when they come to work.

    Justin

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