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10 Tips for Creating a Gym Employee Handbook


A gym employee handbook can be incredibly useful for you and your team. Companies of all sizes can benefit from an employee handbook. If you haven’t created one, you’re not alone. They take time to write and pull together. You might not think you need one until it’s too late. An employee handbook can create a positive workplace culture and educate employees on all work policies. 

Establish your studio’s policies and protect your business in writing. It’s by no means quick and easy to write one. In this article, we will breakdown the steps you need to take to create a gym employee handbook and tips to help make the process run more smoothly. Skip ahead to:

What is an Employee Handbook?

In today’s business community, employee handbooks are a necessity. Employee handbooks help employers and business owners manage their work environment more effectively. Before you hire your first employee, you should have a guide ready to go. Although they can be annoying to create, it can go along way in keeping your team informed of your policies and avoiding any problems within your gym. 

3 Reasons You Should Have a Gym Employee Handbook 

There are several reasons why you should have a gym employee handbook. The book helps an organization to run more smoothly. It outlines the do’s and don’ts of the gym and allows employees to know what is expected of them. It’s not just enough to write a handbook, business owners need to enforce the policies, procedures, and rules of the manual or it will lose its power. 

Introduce Employees to Your Values, Mission and Culture 

One of the most critical aspects of the employee handbook is to introduce potential workers to your gym’s culture, mission, and values. This helps employees to understand how they will fit into your gym and build a sense of belonging and community. 

Evidence suggests that workers are craving a sense of belonging. In a survey by Workhuman, when workers feel like their workplace fosters appreciation and recognition, they are twice as likely to feel like they can grow in their organization. They are also much more likely to feel like their work has meaning and trust their manager

Educate Employees 

A gym employee handbook is an excellent tool for educating employees about multiple areas of the business. It outlines logistics, work hours, salary, and expectations. Communicated policies and procedures help to eliminate confusion while working. The more your employees know about your business, the more they will be able to follow the rules and do what is expected of them.  

Ensure Compliance with Laws and Policies 

When hiring gym staff, all employees must be compliant with laws and policies at a business, state, and federal level. No system or procedure is sufficient if it isn’t practiced consistently. Your employee handbook communicates your gym’s code of conduct, behavior, and employment policies. 

No matter where your gym is based, there will be federal and state laws that both you and your employees will need to follow. Your handbook helps to ensure compliance with various obligations and local laws. A great resource covering employment law is The Employment Law Podcast. Listen to the episode on Employee Handbooks. The episode discusses the issues around employee handbooks that business owners should consider.  

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Gym Employee Handbook 

Now you know why you need a gym employee handbook, it’s time to create one. Although employee handbooks are a useful tool, if not written correctly or if procedures aren’t followed, it leaves the business vulnerable to legal action. Make sure to update and revise your employee handbook regularly so that it’s in-line with your current company culture and mission. Here are 10 tips for creating an effective gym employee handbook. 

1. Introduce Your Mission, Values and Company Culture 

The first step in creating your employee handbook is to introduce your gym’s mission, values, and company culture. Start with an introduction and your mission statement. The idea is that this part of the handbook helps to build purpose and explain your needs. It’s not just about using company buzzwords; it’s about showing your employees precisely who you are and the environment that they will be joining. 

You can take the chance to describe your gym’s history and where you have come from. As a business owner, take control of the narrative and get your employees excited about working with you.  

2. Expectations and Responsibilities 

This part of the employee handbook process is not only for the employee but the employer too. Your new team members should know what is expected of them as well as what they can expect from you. This might include things like general information about the role, dress code, part or full-time work schedule, breaks, time-off, medical leave, and safety expectations. Emphasize that punctuality is essential, and tardiness won’t be taken lightly without a solid reason. 

Common points might include how employees will track their time or how many sick days will an employee receive? How does an employee inform their immediate supervisor of sick leave and what the procedure is? Communicate your expectations for work performance and when employees can expect performance reviews. An employee handbook should communicate the answers to all these kinds of important questions. 

3. Company Policies 

Your handbook should cover all essential company policies. This might include your sexual harassment policy, equal opportunity employment and non-discrimination policies, substance abuse policy, and worker’s compensation policy. All details on how your gym complies with local and federal regulations should be included in your handbook. 

Policies such as sexual harassment and equal opportunity employment can be a bit of minefield. So, cover your back and write everything down. By putting plans into writing, you always have something to refer to, and your employees are made aware of everything they need to know right from the beginning.   

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4. Rules of Conduct 

You must write down your rules of conduct in your employee handbook. Clearly state the rules, how to follow them if needed, and disciplinary action that will be taken for violations. This might include rules on behavior, cell phones, and social media use. Make sure you cover things like breaks, dress code, conflict of interest. Again, this helps your employees understand what is expected in terms of representing your brand. 

For example, if you hire a personal trainer, their job is to deliver health and fitness services to your clients. Rules of conduct may include respecting the client, treating all clients equally, always telling clients what you are about to do, and ensuring confidential information stays private. The employee handbook will help your new staff member to understand how you expect them to act and interact with members. 

For more information on social media use, listen to The Fitness Business Podcast. Episode #163 discusses social media policies for your staff. Corporate lawyer, Scott McKenzie, talks about how to manage social media in your facilities and the importance of implementing a social media policy. 

5. Salary

A new employee needs to know how much they are going to be paid and when. This section of the handbook should answer any questions a new member of the team would have. Include details like how your employees will work and get paid for overtime, as well as how to track and submit timesheets, pay period, and payday. The same applies to all roles within your gym, whether you’re taking on a new personal trainer or receptionist. 

It’s crucial that your staff feel valued, well-paid, and have the opportunity to progress in their careers. To help you find the best team for your gym, we’ve put together a guide on the top traits to look for in each candidate and how to carry out the interview process. You should offer your staff competitive rates to get the best quality candidates who will be more likely to stay with you long-term.   

6. Benefits 

Do you offer vacations, health insurance, paid parental leave, or any other employee benefits your employees should know about? Are they entitled to a free gym membership and class passes for family members? Ensure your new employees know about all your policies and benefits. Communicate all the eligibility requirements for your company benefits in your employee handbook. 

A robust benefits package helps you attract and retain the best employees. Be sure they fully understand all the benefits your business has to offer and give them even more reason to stick with you.  

7. Let Employees Know Where to Turn for Help 

You want your employees to feel comfortable speaking to a member of management if they have any problems. If they’re going to get help or report a workplace violation or substandard working conditions, there needs to be a transparent process and open communication in place. If your employee doesn’t know who to turn to or feels like they can’t speak to you as a manager or business owner, they might seek help elsewhere outside of the organization. 

A handbook should outline two members of the team in management they should be able to turn to whenever they need help. If there are two individuals, your employee can turn to, even if there is a disagreement, there is another option. This helps to keep any disputes or complaints in-house, which is a good thing for all business owners.   

8. Employee Rights 

This section of the employee handbook should list all employee rights and protection. Employee rights and company policies can tie in together, and there is often overlap. Your employee’s rights should be covered under your equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment, and non-discrimination policies. Your employees may be eligible for other protections and rights, so be sure to do thorough research.  

9. Safety 

Your gym employee handbook should cover all health and safety aspects of your business. Safety information should be explained throughout your employee handbook where appropriate. As an employer, you should carry out a risk assessment in your gym that helps you directly address any hazards in the workplace. You can either carry out the risk assessment yourself or have a trusted member of staff do it. 

The risk assessment helps you put processes in place to protect your clients, your staff, and any members of the public. On top of communicating general safety protocol and procedures, your new employees can also take part in health and safety training, first aid training, and fitness training. To help protect you and your members, we’ve pulled together eight ways to help keep your clients safe

10. Legal Disclaimers 

This section should cover any legal disclaimers or legal statements you have that will dissolve you of liability. Legal disclaimers may include things such as your policies are subject to change, that your handbook is not the same as an employment contract, and details about termination of employment. 

Before handing your employee handbook out to your team, it’s recommended that you have an attorney review your guide. Of course, hiring an attorney will be an additional cost, but it ensures that you have covered everything you need to. 

After your new employees have read the handbook, they should sign an acknowledgment form. The form states that the employee has read and understood the employee handbook. Again, this stage in the process can help prevent any problems down the road.   

In Summary 

A comprehensive gym employee handbook is essential in today’s business world. The guide communicates your organization’s policies, benefits, employee rights, and more. All of this information helps to prevent misunderstandings, complaints, and job dissatisfaction in the future. A well-written employee handbook is an excellent management tool, allowing you to keep your team informed and run your business more smoothly. 

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