As the big staff development day approaches, Nicki catches up with Diane Gaffney, our HR Manager to chat about Our People.leisure assistant dry2

Many years ago, when I was a struggling start up PR, I would have to write about businesses that I just didn’t quite believe in 100% . (Please don’t judge me, bills needed paid and a child needed fed!) So for me, one of the huge perks of becoming older, wiser and more established is that I am in the fortunate position of only doing business with companies I trust, respect and enjoy.  It’s a pretty cushty situation I can tell you!

The reason I mention this is because I do feel sometimes my opinions on LAL may sound tainted by the fact that they pay me.  And this week, I’m probably going to sing higher praises than ever before!  Today folks, I’m talking about the people that you meet in the venues across Perthshire and the behind the scenes work they all put in to ensure they are trained in all aspects of their job.

Yes, they are supported and nurtured by the company but as anyone who has ever done a training course will know, you only ever get out what you choose to put in. (Gary McLean will be so proud of me for that one!).

I don’t know about you but the people in a business will absolutely make or break my loyalty.   I have stopped using cafes and shops I love after bad service.  I should clarify by saying I’m not some crazy perfectionist; mistakes don’t bother me but rudeness is my pet peeve.   The opposite is also true, when a member of staff will gain my loyalty and my money just by being nice, cheerful or funny.

This is where my singing of praises shall start! I love going to LAL venues.  Each and every time I have stood in a class I have been inspired by the instructor standing at the front, motivating rows of sweaty people.  I’ve been pushed on further than I ever knew possible with a number of different personal trainers who not only know their stuff, but who someone know mine!  Throw in the café staff who are always ready with a smile and cuppa at the end of it all and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.   What’s surprising about all of that is that it is consistent across the board, a common denominator if you will.

Of course, these things don’t happen by chance and there is a real emphasis on investing in our people at all levels. I caught up with Diane Gaffney, head of HR to find out what the LAL team have been up to this year for our benefit.

The big development is the new Learning Management System which has provided an alternative way of staff accessing training by offering e-learning opportunities.  Sounds grand, but do people actually use it!?  The answer is a resounding yes! Turns out when people love their job they’re happy to improve and learn new ideas and techniques.

This idea of continuous development is hugely important in the fitness industry; think back to how you exercised ten years ago? Yes, sporting rules are basically the same but when it comes to maximising your fitness levels new research is popping up all the time.  Add to this constant changes in first aid, health and safety and the basics of working with people and you will see that the LAL team have lots of potential opportunities for improvement and with e-training, tapping into these has never been easier.

However, there’s only so much you can do over the internet because when it comes to fitness, sometimes the only way to improve is by hitting the gym or studio and doing it yourself.  This year, a whole host of LAL instructors jumped at the opportunity to train in Les Mills, the global brand that brings us Body Pump, GRIT, Les Mills RPM, Body Combat and Body Balance.  LAL signed a new and improved licence deal with Les Mills and opened up new classes across all localities.

The response was immense with staff members keen to pick up new qualifications and skills and customers signing up for all classes. (As a little aside, if you’ve not tried the Les Mills classes they are definitely worth a go! Check out your local class timetables here).

Next Wednesday though, is the biggest day of the year for development with all 600+ members of the team invited to come together in the Annual Staff Development Day.  Venues will close across the localities as the company descends upon Dewar’s Centre for a motivational day of learning and development.

I have to confess, when I first heard about this it seemed a bit indulgent. Who closes every venue for a whole day?  But the truth is having been to two of these now I can see exactly why this decision was made.  For starters, the simple act of meeting up with your colleagues from other venues and areas has a great feel good factor. People are sharing ideas, exchanging tips, chatting shop and LOVING it.

Then there is that question of consistency; remember I said I was always impressed at how great the service is across the board? That’s because everyone gets the same message, from the CEO to general assistants, Head Office staff, senior managers, instructors, catering team, receptionists, duty managers and even the woman who writes on a contract, the message is crystal clear.  There is a LOT of power in that statement and I hope it shines through each and every time you visit.

Last year the focus was on the customer experience (here's my group in session three!) this year we’re hearing from motivational speaker, Dr Andrew Murray, who is a Sport and Exercise Medicine doctor, GP and runner, an author, event speaker and part time journalist!

As a runner, he has completed challenges including a 4,300km run from far north Scotland to the Sahara desert, 7 ultra-marathons on the 7 different continents in under a week. Race wise, he has placed first in the North Pole Marathon, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the Gobi Challenge, the Indo Jungle Ultra, and races closer to home, whilst also competing for Scotland in various events.

Work wise he has worked at the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and with various national and international squads. He currently works for the European and Challenge Tour Golf, the SportScotland Institute of Sport, and the Scottish Rugby Union from the elite sport side of thing, but is passionate about increasing physical activity for health. To this end, he worked for the Scottish Government as their first “physical activity champion”.

Dr Murray is talking to the LAL team about the importance of physical activity for health and how they can better take their place in contributing to our communities’ health.  Which means all of you will directly feel the benefits of this great man’s talk from your local LAL team.  That’s what I call a WIN WIN!

Live Active Leisure Venues will be closed on Wednesday 23rd December to allow all staff to attend their Annual Development Day, however some community campuses will be open as normal. Click through to see opening hours here.