19 Nov 2017 | Digital editions, magazines, websites, e-zines, handbooks and contract publishing for the leisure industry

Sports Management issue 133, 2017 is now out!

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Liz Terry
CEO,
Leisure Media

Kate Cracknell
editor-at-large,
Health Club Management

Eva McDiarmid
Chief Executive,
ASVA

Kurt Janson
Policy Director,
Tourism Alliance

Philippe Rossiter
Chief Executive,
Institute of Hospitality

Aleatha Ezra
Director of park member development,
World Waterpark Association

Ian Taylor
CEO,
SkillsActive

Gareth Edwards
Director of Education,
Springboard

John Goodbody
Sports Journalist

Suki Kalirai
Interim CEO,
SkillsActive

Sam Coulstock
Customer Relationship Director,
Springboard

Stephen Studd
CEO,
SkillsActive

Edwina Hart
Minister for Business,
Welsh Assembly Government

Leah De Silva
Business development director,
Springboard

David Grevemberg
CEO,
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Simon Johnson
CEO,
Business in Sport and Leisure

David Kerr
Principal,
David Kerr Associates

Nick King
Director,
Sports Think Tank

Fredrik Lindahl
Treasurer & Administrator,
Finnish Cricket Association

Chris Marriott
Capita Symonds

Rhona Mennie
Business relations manager,
Springboard UK

Matt Partridge
Executive board member,
CLOA

Tom Pinnington
Associate director,
Capita Symonds

Hugh Robertson
Minister for Sport

David Stalker
CEO,
ukactive

Chris Trickey
Chief Executive,
SAPCA

Phillip Villars
Managing Director,
Indigo Planning

Tom Walker
Journalist,
Leisure Media

Duncan Wood-Allum
Director,
Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy

Upgrading the industry

05 Jan 2016
by Kate Cracknell, editor-at-large, Health Club Management
The Living Wage presents a perfect moment to upskill the workforce and improve sector credibility

The National Living Wage is coming, and operators across the UK will be trying to work how they can afford it. It will certainly be a challenge in a sector that has long relied on fairly low-paid staff, but we believe it presents an interesting opportunity to upgrade the industry.

Although it’s long been campaigned for by organisations such as the Living Wage Foundation – which has its own recommendations on rates of pay – until now nothing has been legally enforceable. But all that’s changing in April, when a new Living Wage structure comes into play that’s compulsory for over-25s: hourly rates will start at £7.20 (the current minimum wage is £6.50) and gradually rise to £9 an hour by 2020.

So how will UK operators respond? Will some try to avoid all this by quietly favouring under-25s, hoping to avoid age discrimination claims by hiding behind the fact that many gym instructors are already young? It’s hardly an ethical approach, but it’s easy to see how it might come about.

If so, and the Living Wage is embraced only by a minority of operators, it could lead to a two-tier structure within the sector, with businesses that are willing to pay the higher wage gaining a competitive advantage: securing the best staff, offering a different class of product based on high calibre support – and justifiably charging a premium for these services.

Alternatively, if all operators embrace the Living Wage, the entire industry could see a shift in standards. This in turn would create a real opportunity to meet the ambitious goals the sector has already set itself: co-operation with the medical profession, partnership with public health, staying relevant to an increasingly self-sufficient consumer. These ambitions require staff to be more highly qualified – not to mention richer in both people and life skills – than is typically the case today.

So let’s use the Living Wage to our advantage, asking not if we embrace it, but rather how it can best work for us. Yes it’s disruptive, but it presents a perfect moment to upskill the workforce and improve the sector’s credibility.

For example, we could introduce a raft of compulsory CPD alongside the Living Wage, helping employees attain skills and standards that reflect their higher pay.

But however positive the opportunity, the question of how to afford the Living Wage remains – at least until a critical mass of members agree gyms’ services are now worth paying more for.

Operators will be looking at their overheads and wondering how much further these can be pared down – but Jessica Higgins, head of employment for Christopher Davidson Solicitors, says it isn’t all bad news: “Some businesses already paying the Living Wage report reduced costs through lower levels of staff absenteeism and turnover. It’s likely to improve productivity and morale too, and with it drive better customer service.

“Also, pay for many fitness employees includes bonuses, sales commission and/or performance-related pay, which already counts towards the Living Wage.”

Meanwhile CIMSPA CEO Tara Dillon points to apprenticeships as another way to balance the books: operators who invest in these could, she says, see the new apprenticeship levy working in their favour, offsetting the cost of implementing the Living Wage (see Health Club Management 2016 issue 1 p34).

It won’t be easy, but the Living Wage represents a great opportunity to upskill our sector. Let’s not be afraid of it.



Tags: Health Club Management  executive  health & fitness  sport & recreation  personnel/hr  people  public sector  suppliers 

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