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Making the Workplace Work Better

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the Outlook 2024 Pulse Survey chose workforce issues as their greatest area of concern when choosing from a list of factors

that could affect their clubs in 2024 and the remainder of the decade. A separate open-ended question about the greatest challenge currently facing the club industry yielded many other responses related to staffing and the workplace, including:

“Securing appropriate staff to fulfill the demands of the new generation of members.”

“The generational shift in work attitudes.”

“Losing key staff to larger clubs with higher pay scales.”

These challenges and more will be top of mind for club leaders throughout 2024. The labor market will continue to be tight and for any club to successfully compete for top talent and retain its high performers, all these issues will need management’s full attention:

Employee well-being. Club leaders need to go beyond the traditional approach of providing basic employee needs such as a livable wage, affordable healthcare and retirement/ pension support. They must also start to take action on work/life integration (as opposed to work/life balance) by addressing management burnout with flexible work sched- ules, urging people to take paid time off and redefining reasonable workloads.

AI Integration. Artificial intelligence is coming, whether it’s wanted or not. So how are clubs proactively integrating AI into their hiring processes, operational efficiencies and employment policies? AI is redefining roles within club organizations along with the skills that are necessary in any position. Updating job descriptions, job postings and performance criteria to reflect this change will be important.

Human skills development. This is not a new focus, but one that is more critical than ever. Managers need to be trained on effectively leading their teams. Continuing to promote from within is great, but failing to arm new leaders with the skills they need to effectively lead their people is not so great. Shortcomings in this area not only affect a club’s ability to retain top talent, it also negatively impacts the member experience.

Securing a dedicated HR leader. Talent makes a club successful. Having a dedicated, strategic HR leader who serves as a talent strategy quarterback will provide a leader- ship team with a strategic partner who can create recruit- ment, retention, engagement and leadership development strategies that will take the member experience to the next level. Clubs that do not have a dedicated HR leader need to add one.

Digitizing the employee experience. HR technology is a critical component not only for operational efficiencies, but recruitment and retention. Members of Gen Z expect a digital experience with their employer. Paper applications, file cabinets for employee files, table tents in the employee breakroom and flyers attached to paychecks are all now a thing of the past. Integrating technology into the employee experience through enhancements such as an employee app, electronic application and onboarding processes, self-service access to time-off requests and shift changes, and online performance feedback are just a few examples of how clubs now need to evolve.

Pay transparency. States are quickly adopting laws requiring organizations to be transparent about pay rates. What does that mean? Job postings will require clubs to disclose pay rates for their positions. How people are paid matters, and if a club’s compensation rates are inconsistent with no justification, this will create not only liability from a potential discrimination standpoint, but also employee morale and retention issues. To get ahead of this issue, clubs need to document their compensation philosophy, pay ranges and performance/merit increase policies.

Blowing up the performance-review process. Traditional annual performance reviews no longer work. Top-performing organizations are moving away from the sterile, ineffective annual performance-review process to a more agile, frequent and informal feedback process. Younger generations want more regular feedback and interactions with their managers.