Technology and social media can be your club's friend or foe. Just ask Life Time Fitness. The Chanhassen, MN-based company employed a group cycle instructor at one of its clubs in Rockville, MD, who tweeted a picture of a McDonald's sack on the desk of a Life Time Fitness employee with the words: “A McDonald's bag sits on the desk of a Life Time employees (sic) desk at @lifetimefitness aka â€˜the healthy way of life company.' Ah the irony.”
Life Time later fired that instructor, Grant Hill, not due to the tweet but because he violated its code of conduct, the company told news station WJLA in Maryland.
“While our company has in place a social media policy…his separation was not due to social media interaction. Rather, he violated our company code of conduct, specifically by operating a business that was in violation of our conflict of interest policy,” the statement read in part.
When reached by Club Industry about the matter, Life Time declined to add to its statement.
Hill has owned a boot camp business for two years. He has taught the cycle class at Life Time for three years, he told the station, adding that Life Time was aware of his other business the whole time.
I bring up this story not to debate whether Hill should have been fired or whether his firing was truly for the tweet or the code of conduct violation but to point out the need to have in place a social media policy at your fitness facility. (Branding consultant Denise Lee Yohn shared her thoughts on what your social media policy should include in this Step by Step.) Not only must you establish a policy, but you must ensure all your employees—from full-time to part-time to one-class instructors—are aware of that policy and the consequences for violating it. And you must be consistent in following that policy, whether the tweet or Facebook post or blog entry is ultimately positive or negative.
What sort of social media policy do you have in place? Must all your employees read it and sign that they agree to adhere to this policy? Have you had to terminate an employee because he or she violated the policy?
Your employees represent your company when they are on and off the clock, but they are also individuals with opinions. How much of those opinions can and should you control when those opinions can go out to literally millions in an instant?