Unfortunately, you can’t just dangle a carrot on a string and have your employees happy and motivated at all times. The good news is that countless studies have been conducted to see what really motivates people.
One would presume that money is a top motivator… and it is… for the short term. Some fitness club bosses give out gas cards, Dicks Sporting Goods gift certificates and $100 cash bonuses to meet monthly goals or in exchange for ideas on how to improve the fitness center’s business.
Yet, that’s not all! A study conducted by WorldatWork found that non-cash rewards achieved 3x the return than cash-based incentives! In fact, most employees site “recognition” as one of their top needs. It’s not that they need to have their names posted on a cheesy plaque in the hallway, but they’d like a simple “thank you” from time to time. Perhaps you could host a special birthday breakfast for each employee or offer workers a little corporate flex time if they’re working exceptionally hard. Don’t underestimate motivational perks like a day off, employee personal days and telecommute options.
Invite key employees to the table. Your trainers want to feel like they’re members of a special project or involved in management decisions in some way. They have many ideas and skills to bring to a roundtable discussion, you can be sure, so why not let them help grow the business too? You can handpick special team members to attend seminars, workshops or tradeshows on behalf of the company. You can invite trainers to insider meetings with top managers or company owners. You can let your best and brightest employees liaison with suppliers, partners or other business contacts.
Who says work can’t be fun and games? Devising ongoing contests, prizes and special events can work wonders for employee satisfaction and motivation. The Coaching Institute says the implementation of baby photo contests, social mixers and the like drove up productivity 58 to 72 percent. While these may seem like frivolous expenses, fun and games can be more affordable than you’d think. For example, Call Center Today consultancy advised clients to skip giving employees their usual $1-per-hour raise and instead giving away a new car every month, which spent the same amount of money but drove productivity through the roof. Other companies let employees accrue Monopoly money, which can be traded in for prizes like scuba diving lessons, participation in a team building wilderness adventure, a day off to do volunteer work of their choosing, or some other unique incentive.
Going The Extra Mile
Going the extra mile means a lot to people, whether they’re your team of trainers or your own personal clients and customers.
Consider this scenario: It’s December 23rd and a customer just orders a personal training package from me for his wife. Judging by the date, it’s safe to assume he wants it overnight shipped to be there in time for Christmas. As you know, deliveries don’t always happen as we hope they might. When the package doesn’t arrive on-time, this customer is irate about “the poor customer service” he received.
WHAT I COULD DO: I could tell him he’s a real jack @$$ for waiting until the last minute to buy his wife a Christmas present and for going postal on me when I have no control over the delivery trucks. I could have told him “good riddance,” that we don’t need customers of his ilk anyway.
What Most People Would Do: Half the people would have probably done the last scenario. The other half would probably apologize profusely and offer a future credit or refund the shipping portion of his order. That still does not solve the problem that this customer has nothing to give his wife for Christmas and the fact that he’ll look like a total chump for the holidays, particularly at the in-laws’ house for dinner when they politely ask their daughter, “So honey, what did he get you?”
What I Should Do: I don’t want to do what the average fitness center does. I take pity on this dude’s situation. Hell, who hasn’t been the guy who grabs an anniversary card and roses from the convenience store on the way home from work at least once in his life? So I tell him to calm down because no one at Fit Concepts would let him die out there like that. As soon as our center closes for the night, I’ll be over at his house to personally hand-deliver the certificate. See how I’ve totally disarmed him? How can he be angry now? This customer will not only feel valued, but will become a loyal fan for life. Think of how many message boards you’ve prevented him from trash-talking you on. Think of how many friends he’ll tell this story to. This isn’t to say you should cow-tow to irrational and irate customers looking for free shipping or a world that revolves entirely around them. On some occasions, you may need to say “I did my best and that’s all I could do,” but if you can go the extra mile… by all means GO! This will be what differentiates your business and gains you a solid base of die-hard customers in the end.
The same holds true for your employees.
Imagine this scenario… An employee calls in sick to work one day because her spouse has been killed in a motorcycle accident.
WHAT I COULD DO: I could send her a Hallmark card offering my condolences.
What Most People Would Do: Most bosses offer some sort of bereavement leave… usually 3 to 5 days of paid time off.
What I Should Do: I want to show my valued employee that the whole fitness center is behind her and we really understand how hard it is for her during this time. I tell her it’s fine to take the week off. My staff and I organize a cooking session where we whip up her favorite health foods and deliver it to her house so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking during her period of grief. Our fitness center staff attends her husband’s funeral to show our support. We give her flowers, a card and a gift certificate for a day at the spa, which will help her calm her jangled nerves. I also give her information on our complimentary bereavement counseling so she can come back to work with her head in the game. I’ve gone over and beyond the usual line of duty to show that I value and respect my employees as more than just “hired help” – but as friends and family. Who else would do that for her? Now even if a competing gym offered her a higher salary to come work for them, she would stay with me because she knows she’ll never find a sense of camaraderie and appreciation like this anywhere else.