The ‘Great Resignation’ is certainly taking its toll on businesses, with over 20 million people quitting their jobs in the second half of 2021. In fact, 4.4% of all positions in education are open, over 6% in retail, and more than 8% in health care.
Open jobs in hospitality are nearly 9%. That's almost a million-and-a-half vacant positions. This has many businesses struggling to provide the same level of service their customers have come to expect. But this is also taking a toll on the staff that remain when a coworker leaves. Often they’re left to pick up the additional work for an undetermined amount of time. This can lead to more unhappy employees and even more resignations. It’s imperative businesses connect, engage, and support their employees.
And help, in the form of more manpower, is going to be difficult to find. In November, Club Resort + Business published an article entitled ‘Keeping a Happy Crew’. Betsy Gilliland wrote, “As with other club departments and for businesses in general, hiring personnel for course-and-grounds staff has become more difficult.” But now, many clubs are recognizing technology can be more than just a stop-gap, it can permanently solve two needs; improving club efficiencies and enabling employees.
Improving Club Efficiencies
While in the throes of the pandemic, clubs quickly adopted technology that supported touchless and contactless engagement, as well as contact tracing. And while government regulations may not be driving these digital decisions anymore, this same technology stack can solve for resource constraints. With reservation technology, clubs can pivot bookings, scheduling, and capacity based on staffing that particular day. Clubs can enable self-check-in at courses, courts, fitness centers, and pools. They can also stand up a digital host(ess) stand with automated dining check-in. If a club is short-staffed they can leverage kiosks and cloud-based mobile POS to enable members to pick up items they need for the day such as bottled water, snacks or a new sleeve of golf balls.
Integrated together, the right technology stack can provide digital staffing, allow in-person staff to rotate where they’re needed at that moment, and still deliver members the experience they expect. But it’s also important to remember that when deploying disruptive innovation or processes, we must consider and plan for changes in team dynamics, recruitment of resources to support skill gaps, and an evolution of incentives and evaluations. ‘Sustainable Development in an Age of Disruption’, challenges us to consider the role of technology in replacing resources. It’s an interesting dichotomy because there’s a need for improved operational efficiency, but people and relationships act as a club’s single best source of competitive advantage.
So, in this age of disruption, which provides the greatest source of opportunity, the technology, or the people? The answer is both. In ‘Seize Advantage in a Downturn’, the ability to identify new opportunities, especially found within technology, falls to employees. This is especially true with leadership. Club leaders must keep an eye on the future of their external environment to identify new areas of disruption. They need to think about people, process, and technology – in that order.
Serve your staff in the same capacity as you would have them serve your members. This is a page taken right out of the Disney playbook. A few years ago I was on a Disney cruise and struck up a conversation with a few of the cast members (how they refer to their employees). The cast members shared that once a year they get to bring their family on a cruise so they can experience the same service they’re expected to deliver. We’re seeing this mentality play out at many clubs. Delivering an exceptional experience to your staff, from onboarding to the day-to-day, is just as important as the experience you deliver to your members.
Many clubs have extended the use of mobile apps, email marketing, SMS, and virtual tour systems. Staff can communicate with current and prospective members utilizing digital body language. With tools like location-based marketing, email marketing and SMS, virtual communication can be more frequent, consistent, and relevant. Clubs can also ensure that all staff are clear on procedures and adjusted operations by sending push-notifications through the club’s app, as well as email and SMS.
Clubs also need to provide their staff with more than just a list of member names. Access to member preference data is certainly a step in the right direction. Capturing order preferences allows staff to better understand the wants of a member. But to build a service culture, staff should have the data and insight to proactively deliver an experience the member didn’t know was possible. It’s one thing to know that a member orders a protein smoothie after every spin class, it’s quite another to have that protein smoothie waiting for them once the class is complete. Collect more than preferences, understand their club utilization. This will provide a view into the member's motivations and behaviors.
Shifting From Resignation to Reassessment
Several articles have been published lately, challenging the ‘Great Resignation’ trend with a belief that what we’re really seeing is the “Great Reassessment’. Employees are giving serious consideration to what really matters in an employer, and it’s not just salary. Employees want balance, benefits, and a belief that their company cares for their well-being. Clubs must now regularly demonstrate their commitment to improving the betterment of their staff. This can be accomplished by eliminating the extra work traditionally placed on employees by utilizing technology for automation enhancements and redundancy elimination, as well as providing them with the tools they need to succeed and do their job well.
Everyone wants opportunity. Club leaders must identify how to translate the opportunity seen in technology to opportunities that accelerate the balance, benefit, and well-being of teams.