Keeping Employees Happy and Engaged

Keeping Employees Engaged & Happy

Globally, Child Activity Centers struggle the most with Finding, Attracting and Hiring Staff for all positions. Once you have done the work to bring these excellent employees to your team, how will you keep them happy and engaged? Your staff retention system!

Child Activity Center Industries are actually in an excellent position to recruit and retain employees as we naturally offer what selective workers want. Post pandemic surveys show that there is a ‘resignation boom’ with anywhere from 25% – 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs. These workers want more job flexibility and want to work fewer hours.

Are YOU set up for long-term retention and loyalty?

“Remember, everyone wants to be successful.

Your role as a manger or business leader is to find and develop

employees who can perform well in your workspace”

~ Lisa Holley, Corporate Learning at Insperity

Your training plan will prepare new hires to successfully perform the responsibilities and tasks included in their position agreements. A good retention plan and on-going professional development with a focus on great communication will solidify your team. The 3rd Level Staffing Success Series will help you jump through these hurdles and “all things business” in order to create a team and systems and that embody the culture of your business.

All leaders in your organization must focus on both internal and external customers.

Loss of focus on the internal customer (staff members) will result in losing external customers (students)!

Do you have an organized staff retention system? If you aren’t sure, here are some questions to ask yourself to help make that determination:

  1. Are your staff members happy & engaged?
  2. Do your staff members feel like part of a cohesive team?
  3. Do they love coming to work every day (or 99% of the time)?
  4. Do they tell their friends and family how great your company is to work for?
  5. Do you have at least 3 key employees who have been with your business over 5 years?
  6. Do you know your employees’ favorite thing(s) about working for your company?

Retention and turnover affects everyone in your company, not to mention your bottom line. Having loyal and talented long-term staff members pays dividends far into the future. Retention Strategy just like any other system should be regularly reviewed to ensure you’re doing the best you can to provide stellar working conditions and keep your team happy and healthy.

RETAIN EMPLOYEES through providing a success path for each one.

F Financial

O Opportunity for Advancement

R Recognition


R Relationships

E Engaging

T Training

E Environment

N Non-monetary

T Treatment

I Inclusive

O On-going Professional Development

N Navigate


F – Financial

The financial factor goes beyond employee pay rates. Incorporate “extras” to provide both incentives and build loyalty. “Extras” play many roles including loyalty, appreciation and motivation to name a few.

Examples of Financial “Extras”

  • Higher Weekend Pay Rate
  • Special Event Pay such as birthday parties, private lessons, etc.
  • Opportunities for Tips
  • Paid Time Off
  • Paid Travel
  • Paid Training
  • Bonuses – Spontaneous, Attendance, Performance
  • Pay Increases
  • Family Discounts – tuition, pro-shop, etc.

O – Opportunity for Advancement

Provide a Career Road Map that includes opportunities to move both laterally and vertically within your organizational structure. Prepare qualified and interested candidates for movement into management positions within a realistic timeline. Definite your organizational structure so prospects have visibility to potential positions. Advancement can also include items such as profit sharing.

R – Recognition

Recognition comes in many forms – verbal praise, monetary (gift cards), handwritten notes, and certificates of accomplishment. Recognition in front of others and/or displayed for others to see and can come from managers, co-workers or customers (students or parents). Being recognized for a job well done or even just an act of kindness provides a feeling of belonging. Everyone wants to feel they are truly part of a team! Once a recognition program is established, this tool not only builds loyalty, but also serves to increase motivation (more on this in our next blog)!

R – Relationships

Working in an environment with others who have similar goals and passions results in building life-long friendships. While you may not be friends outside of work with everyone, having a business built on relational leadership will go a long way. Strong leaders will build a solid foundation of mutual respect with all employees. Being intentional about building relationships will result in staff members being more receptive and appreciative when corrective actions need to occur.

E – Engaging

Employees are engaged when they are in a position (or positions) that not only fit their skills and talents but also fit their preference. Often very talented employees will have the ability to wear many hats and may even be excellent in an area where he or she doesn’t prefer to work. Knowing skills, talents AND preference will prevent losing someone due to having them work outside of what they enjoy.

T – Training

In our Onboarding blog we talk extensively about training. An effective training system must be organized and designed to set your employees up for success in your company. We recommend Leap Learning for Instructor technical training. 3rd Level has developed training for every level of your organization with our Excellence Training Course Series and Performance Dashboards for Instructors, Office and Managers.

E –Environment

Environment can mean so many things. From fun, upbeat surroundings to being able to wear casual apparel, positive physical attributes of your daily work environment directly impact your mental state at work. But beyond the tangible surroundings, your company culture is crucial to employee retention. Providing a positive environment where kids and staff want to be is key!

N – Non-monetary

Many of the items touched on thus far would all fall into the non-monetary category – but even more can fall into this category such as; Health & Wellness Benefits, Work-Life Balance and Mentorship Programs. Creation of Health and Wellness Benefits for both physical and mental health show you care beyond just the work within your 4 walls. The desire for Work-Life Balance will lead people to industries who will provide flexible work arrangements and perks that allow for more family and personal time. Having both a peer and leader mentor has value beyond the additional money spent. A co-worker mentorship program will greatly improve loyalty and camaraderie right off the start. The next blog in our series will elaborate on mentoring.

T – Treatment

Everyone wants to truly be part of a team where opinion and ideas matter and the management style doesn’t have the top-down feel. Fair treatment and support of your journey to personal and professional success creates feelings of belonging to your workplace. In addition, flexible scheduling options that work around school schedules and family responsibilities is an added benefit.

I – Inclusive

Your employees should feel as welcome and valued as the children participating. Building a diverse workforce creates a culture of acceptance among both employees and participants. Showing appreciation for what each individual can contribute builds unity. Learn more about your staff by understanding cultures, backgrounds and personality types. Some great tools exist to learn more such as DISC, Strength Finder, Enneagram, The 5 Love Languages, Myers-Briggs, 16 Personalities and more. Being included in a tribe of positive and encouraging individuals working together for the greater good improves not only retention but physical and mental health and well-being.

O – Ongoing Professional Development

Professional training can be both internal and external and could include conferences, clinics and in-house training opportunities. Training for both the technical components of instructors and office staff would also be included. Professional training could expand knowledge in current role or allow for exploration of additional roles or promotions. 3rd Level specializes in Management Training Including:

  • Program Development
  • Staff Development
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Facility Efficiency
  • Risk Management
  • Retention & Growth Targets
  • Inspiring Leadership

Learn More about 3rd Level’s Manager Training Program

N – Navigate

Your company must strive to pivot and embrace change (as needed) while standing firm and with your cultural standards and core values. The character traits you value and reinforce will help you find your tribe! Having a tribe of people who resonate with the character traits, core values and your cultural corner stones will help you navigate to your true north.

Remember, training doesn’t stop at the 3-month mark when the new staff member can work independently. Having an effective training system is just one element of retaining exceptional employees. An organized training system will set your employees up for success in your company, but your retention plan ensures it! After the initial onboarding process is complete, mentoring is ongoing and the employee will move into the Personal & Professional Development System as defined in the Smart Edge curriculums.

“The most common reason an employee has trouble picking up new information is a mismatch between the employee’s responsibilities and their natural talents”

~ Lisa Holley, Corporate Learning at Insperity

The question is HOW do you know what is working and what isn’t? Simple, ASK. By surveying employees (especially those who have been with you for a very long time), you can assess what items are most valuable and impactful that lead to the long-term loyalty. Surveys will be covered in our Monitor & Mentor Blog.

Often toughest to face are the factors out of your control. When a top employee leaves because of spouse relocation, parenting duties or career change, this is often difficult to handle. Use the departure of this person as a learning opportunity. No hiring system will be fail-safe but incorporating the elements from this entire staffing series will result in more success and more long-term employees.

We do a wonderful job of training and monitoring the progress of children. To thrive, we need to train and monitor the progress of every staff member. Keep in mind that on occasion someone leaving is a GOOD THING. When realizing that perhaps your goals no longer align or the person didn’t turn out to be who you expected from the interview, a friendly departure and wish of good luck can be the best option for both parties.

We are here to help you make sure you have your bases covered. Would you like a free consultation to review, build or improve your system? Click HERE to set one up. We are here to help you create a customized staffing system for longevity, loyalty & legacy with personalized coaching packages of 1-3-5 hours.

3rd Level Consulting offers regularly scheduled webinars on topics of value to your business.
Click the picture to the right to sign-up for current or to receive recordings of past webinars.

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Meet The Contributors

The contributors have successfully served children’s activity centers, gymnastics gyms, dance studios, cheer gyms, swim schools and child care centers worldwide for 35+ years.

Frank Sahlein
Frank SahleinCEO / Founder
Frank’s inspirational leadership and creative innovation repeatedly takes our team, our clients and many industries to the next level.
Barbara Anne May
Barbara Anne MayCCO / Co-Owner
Barbara Anne’s vast industry experience and commitment to help our clients achieve their goals makes her an invaluable asset.
Christie Copeland
Christie CopelandConsultant / Speaker
Christie is a business development expert. She is a former gym owner and corporate analyst and owns Champions Choice Consulting.
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