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The P of Personnel must become the P of Priority NOW!

May 17, 2022

It is shortly before the weekend. The telephone rings. It is Jeroen Gerats on behalf of Bodylife. Jeroen calls me to tell me that the deadline for the issue in front of you is approaching. I ask him if there is a desirable subject from within the magazine for this issue. Jeroen's answer stems from the noises we are increasingly hearing from the sector: there is a crying shortage of good staff. This is a subject that is also close to my heart. To come straight to the point, we have all been responsible for this serious staff shortage ourselves! The worst part? The average club in the Netherlands is in the service segment. A segment that is made possible - and can be profitable - by? ......... Yes!
It is going to be a mega challenge to reverse this situation.

It is already 5 minutes to 12
As I wrote in the headline of this article, we have all been responsible for the fact that, as an industry, we have ended up with a dire personnel shortage. The reason: our industry is no longer at all interesting for a serious career. Why not? Just think about it: it is mostly a secondary profession, the number of full-timers is minimal. There are few career opportunities, the earnings are not very high, not to mention the pension facilities. If you ever plan to start a family and want to do your thing without any worries, think again before you step into our industry. As an independent entrepreneur, you can distinguish yourself in many areas, but that is not for everyone. You can count on one hand the number of students who enter our sector directly from the Sport and Movement programmes. Add to that the fact that HBO graduates with a sports background do not see any perspective in our sector and you can imagine that, if it continues like this, we will become a sector with only hobbyists.
On top of that, at the time of Corona, we did not need a lot of colleagues with small contracts and self-employed workers. Quite a few of these valuable employees have not returned. Finally, we also know that the group of instructors in group lessons is ageing.

If we do not do something very soon, the situation will become irreversible. We consider ourselves essential as an industry, but we fail to address the most essential factor to make this happen - namely well-trained staff - keep it in!

Mind you, we are not the only industry struggling with this problem. In that respect, we as a sector are comparable to the hospitality and events sector. Both are also industries that you enjoy entering as a young adult for a part-time job and leave again later when things get more serious....

It is time for a good discussion with various stakeholders
If you have taken the trouble to read this article, I expect I have your attention now. I think it is high time to sound the alarm, because I notice that all over the country there are complaints from entrepreneurs and managers who indicate that they cannot get good people. When I bring up the previous piece on perspectives for workers in our industry, people often agree with me. They recognise the problem. Only, we don't see what a possible solution to the problem could be and especially where to start. And I can tell you, it's certainly not going to be easy to turn the situation around. It is complex. And it's time for a good conversation that we all have to have. Employers, the industry organisation, the training sector, suppliers and free thinkers.
This problem requires a comprehensive approach from the various stakeholders. Unified thinking must become the key to solving our common challenge.

There are good initiatives in development
Someone who also deals with this challenge on a daily basis from his company sportverloning.nl is Remi Brouns. Recently Remi triggered me with a LinkedIn post and from there a nice conversation about this topic started. Remi then dived into it with his initiative "the fire of sports".

Remi:" The cause of the imbalance between sports professionals and sports organisations is the lack of a sustainable future perspective for sports professionals and the ability of sports organisations to invest in these sports professionals. We will have to let go of our existing beliefs regarding recruitment strategies, but also about the current business models. We need to teach employers and sport professionals to use new models to build income security instead of continuing to focus on job security. This will create space for sports organisations to better organise the deployment of these professionals and offer more remuneration, development and health. This creates valuable impact. Working full-time for one employer is becoming increasingly rare, and working in our industry until retirement age is already very rare. Unfortunately, the development of our professionals is also rare... By dividing the responsibility and the direction fairly and transparently between both, we can solve this. We offer a harness for both parties that is based on sustainability. We will facilitate an armoury to develop within the profession and create value. All this in a cost-neutral ecosystem." My tip: keep an eye on the developments around this initiative that is in full development at www.hetvuurvandesport.nl

In the coming weeks, training institute Start2Move will be launching a course that will enthuse participants to enter our beautiful industry.
Michel Looye, director of Start2Move: "Every day we notice that there is a harrowing shortage of good sports professionals. With our new course we offer high potentials an inspirational tour through our industry, where they can get a taste of all the beauty that the field has to offer. The beauty of it all is that the student can follow the course fully subsidised and that we can take the participant by the hand afterwards to continue the course towards a real career in sport. And even this follow-up trajectory can be provided with a piece of the subsidy. Fascinating for both participant and entrepreneur. This solution can certainly contribute to many new recruits for our sector in the short term!

Invitation for a cup of coffee
Let us soon sit down together as an industry to zoom in on this issue. It is in everyone's interest to fully embrace this challenge for a sound future of our industry. The first to receive a phone call from me is the director of our sector organisation NL Actief, Ronald Wouters. More will follow. Keep you posted!

If you have any tips or suggestions regarding this topic, you are welcome to email me at marc.neijland@clubjoy.nl All input is welcome. I look forward to your tips!

This article was previously published in BodyLife magazine, NR 2 2022.

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