Fitness workforce
strengths and weaknesses highlighted

Are you confident you know which areas of your business and staff management you excel in, and in which respects you ‘could do better’? A comparison of the strengths and challenges of the fitness industry with those of the wider Australian business community reveals some interesting findings, says Justin Tamsett.

Great Place to Work® Australia, the ‘premier arbiter of workplace excellence’ recently partnered with Active Management to conduct a study of workplace culture in the Australian fitness industry. Ten fitness businesses participated in this inaugural study, ranging from a sample from a large national chain to individual clubs, personal training business and even an industry supplier.

For starters, the survey reinforced what most of us are aware of, the fact that our industry is relatively young, with the longest running organisation that participated in the study founded only 20 years ago. The fitness industry is characterised by a young (61 per cent of employees are aged 34 years or younger), fluid (70 per cent classified as temporary) workforce relatively evenly represented by both sexes (females 52 per cent, males 48 per cent). On average, 35 per cent of employees have worked for their organisation for less than two years, and 42 per cent have worked for their organisation for between two and five years.

By comparing the fitness industry’s average scores on the Trust Index® Employee Survey to those recorded by the non-industry-specific Australian Top 50 Best Workplaces in 2012, our industry’s unique strengths and challenges in the workplace are highlighted.

Strengths

Overall, the fitness industry performed slightly better than the Top 50 Best Workplaces in the areas of a sense of belonging and ‘feel good’ factors, evident in high scores for the following propositions:

  • ‘My work has special meaning: this is not ‘just a job’
  • ‘I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community’
  • ‘Fair treatment regardless of gender.’

Challenges

However, several management issues distinguished themselves less positively, with the following statements rating more poorly for the fitness industry than among the Top 50 Best Australian Workplaces:

  • ‘I am offered training or development to further myself professionally’
  • ‘I feel I receive a fair share of the profits made by this organisation’
  • ‘Management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort’
  • ‘Everyone has an opportunity to get special recognition’
  • ‘Management’s actions match its words’
  • ‘Management delivers on its promises’
  • ‘People here are willing to give extra to get the job done’
  • ‘Management involves people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment’

On average, 86 per cent of fitness industry employees surveyed said it is a ‘great place to work.’ Most employees surveyed have pride in their work (84 per cent) and strong camaraderie with their colleagues (85 per cent). However, it appears that the average scores for the trust dimensions of (credibility, respect and fairness) between employees and management are more challenging (79 per cent).

The key areas of challenge within the fitness industry appear to be providing employees training and development, profit sharing, recognising and involving employees and trust in management.

If you asked your staff to rate these various propositions honestly (and perhaps anonymously!), how do you think they would rate working for you/in your business?

This year was the first time anything like this study has been conducted specifically for the fitness industry in Australia. It will be repeated in 2014, with the goal of having more clubs, suppliers and businesses participating in order to provide greater insights into our industry’s employment practices.


Justin Tamsett
Justin’s 25 years in the fitness industry have given him a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by club owners. He facilitates the Industry Leaders Roundtable Program for club owners and personal trainers to reduce these ‘pain points’. As the managing director of Active Management, he consults with clubs in customer service, retention and marketing. For business webinars, podcasts, reports and newsletters visit www.ActiveMgmt.com.au and like www.Facebook.com/ActiveManagement.