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Managing Amidst a Changing Present, Part 2

3) Increasing number of workers. The United States labor force has been increasing faster than the general population due to the influx of Baby Boomers into mid-management, as well as immigrant workers. With the advent of higher skilled and technical jobs, the pursuit of higher education is more prevalent. In the quest to earn more money, workers are returning to school for advanced degrees and specialty training. The better educated the population becomes, the more likely they are to spurn lower-skilled jobs and the more important the foreign worker becomes in filling these positions.

For fitness facilities, the dichotomy of staff education will grow. While many managers and fitness instructors earn advanced degrees, many maintenance workers, restaurant employees and locker room staff still tend to be foreign, uneducated workers. The manager’s challenge is to foster a harmonious and mutually respected staff in spite of these differences in order to best serve the members. The advantage of the expanding work force is that managers will have larger pools from which to choose employees, allowing greater selectivity to improve the quality of their staffs.

4) Women in the workforce. Since 1983, 53 percent of the workforce has been female, and dual income families have risen exponentially in the last two decades. Women are making strides both in traditional “pink collar” jobs as well as in professional, technical and management positions. Managers need to understand the intricacies of discrimination and sexual harassment. Policies must be established for maternity and/or family leave. In addition, managers must be prepared for external demands of many workers, such as child-care, flexible-time and part-time options. Jobs may need to be slightly restructured to accommodate more female service.

5) Fewer young people. According to the “dependency ratio” (the number of people over and under the ages of the working population), the number of people who are over age 65 is growing faster than teenagers. Managers may have to compensate for this loss in younger labor by filling positions with elderly or handicapped individuals. These workers may further diversify the employee base, and managers again must strive to foster unity. Also, managers must be prepared to meet the needs of a changing population by adding more senior programming.

6) Worker education and the advent of computers. A national survey in April 1986 showed that 17 to 21 million U.S. adults are illiterate, and even more functionally illiterate (lacking the skills to cope with everyday tasks). Although the pursuit of education is rising, many workers lack the necessary mathematical and reading skills to achieve maximum success on the job. To combat this, managers may consider instituting a continuing education or tuition-reimbursement program. An educated workforce will pay back in greater productivity.

Furthermore, the ongoing proliferation of technology will require managers not only to understand how to generate information, but also how to interpret and use it.

They may be required to seek advanced training to become computer proficient. Managers also will have to be teachers to train staff how to operate computers for maximum benefit.

As the fitness industry changes in every realm–from equipment to workouts to staff–managers will be uniquely challenged to expand their knowledge base and hone their interpersonal skills. Undoubtedly, the industry’s pace will remain rapid, and the astute manager will remain successful by looking ahead and forecasting the future.

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