People Strategy

Making the Workplace Work Better

Making the Workplace Work BetterNearly two-thirds of respondents to the Outlook 2024 Pulse Survey chose workforce issues as their greatest area of concern when choosing from a list of factors that could affect their clubs in 2024 and the remainder of the decade. A separate open-ended question about the greatest challenge currently facing the club industry yielded many other responses related to staffing and the workplace, including:

“Securing appropriate staff to fulfill the demands of the new generation of members.”
“The generational shift in work attitudes.”
“Losing key staff to larger clubs with higher pay scales.”

These challenges and more will be top of mind for club leaders throughout 2024. The labor market will continue to be tight and for any club to successfully compete for top talent and retain its high performers, all these issues will need management’s full attention:

Employee well-being. Club leaders need to go beyond the traditional approach of providing basic employee needs such as a livable wage, affordable healthcare and retirement/ pension support. They must also start to take action on work/life integration (as opposed to work/life balance) by addressing management burnout with flexible work schedules, urging people to take paid time off and redefining reasonable workloads.

AI Integration. Artificial intelligence is coming, whether it’s wanted or not. So how are clubs proactively integrating AI into their hiring processes, operational efficiencies and employment policies? AI is redefining roles within club organizations along with the skills that are necessary in any position. Updating job descriptions, job postings and performance criteria to reflect this change will be important.

Human skills development. This is not a new focus, but one that is more critical than ever. Managers need to be trained on effectively leading their teams. Continuing to promote from within is great, but failing to arm new leaders with the skills they need to effectively lead their people is not so great. Shortcomings in this area not only affect a club’s ability to retain top talent, it also negatively impacts the member experience. 

Securing a dedicated HR leader. Talent makes a club successful. Having a dedicated, strategic HR leader who serves as a talent strategy quarterback will provide a leadership team with a strategic partner who can create recruitment, retention, engagement and leadership development strategies that will take the member experience to the next level. Clubs that do not have a dedicated HR leader need to add one.

Digitizing the employee experience. HR technology is a critical component not only for operational efficiencies, but recruitment and retention. Members of Gen Z expect a digital experience with their employer. Paper applications, file cabinets for employee files, table tents in the employee breakroom and flyers attached to paychecks are all now a thing of the past. Integrating technology into the employee experience through enhancements such as an employee app, electronic application and onboarding processes, self-service access to time-off requests and shift changes, and online performance feedback are just a few examples of how clubs now need to evolve.

Pay transparency. States are quickly adopting laws requiring organizations to be transparent about pay rates. What does that mean? Job postings will require clubs to disclose pay rates for their positions. How people are paid matters, and if a club’s compensation rates are inconsistent with no justification, this will create not only liability from a potential discrimination standpoint, but also employee morale and retention issues. To get ahead of this issue, clubs need to document their compensation philosophy, pay ranges and performance/merit increase policies.

Blowing up the performance-review process. Traditional annual performance reviews no longer work. Top-performing organizations are moving away from the sterile, ineffective annual performance-review process to a more agile, frequent and informal feedback process. Younger generations want more regular feedback and interactions with their managers.

Club Trends – Winter 2024

Jodie J. Cunningham, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a HR/Talent Strategist, Consultant and Search Executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. She can be reached via email:

Making the Workplace Work Better2024-02-21T19:34:35+00:00

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Enhancing Membership Experience and Operations

In today’s private club landscape, maintaining a competitive edge means embracing innovation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers tangible benefits for member clubs, promising to elevate both the membership experience and operational efficiency. Understanding the pragmatic integration of AI is crucial to realising its true potential for impacting clubs for the better.

Membership Experience

AI has the capability to revolutionise membership engagement with your club. By leveraging AI-driven personalisation, clubs can tailor offerings to individual preferences, creating a bespoke journey for each member. From customised event suggestions to personalised communications, AI enhances engagement and fosters a sense of exclusivity.

Moreover, AI-driven analytics can provide invaluable insights into member behaviour, allowing clubs to anticipate needs and preferences. This predictive capability enables proactive service delivery, ensuring that members feel understood and valued.

However, it is essential to strike a balance. While AI enhances personalisation, maintaining the human touch is critical. Combining the efficiency of AI with personal interactions ensures a holistic and enriching membership experience.

Operational Efficiency

In relation to operations, AI can streamline processes and optimise efficiency. From automated member onboarding to predictive maintenance for club facilities, AI can handle routine tasks, freeing up staff to focus on more complex and interpersonal aspects of their roles.

AI-driven analytics can also revolutionise decision-making processes by providing data-driven insights. From resource allocation to financial planning, clubs can make informed decisions, leading to better overall management.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to implement AI in a way that enhances, rather than replaces, human capabilities. Staff should be trained to collaborate effectively with AI systems, ensuring a seamless integration that maximises operational efficiency while preserving the human touch.


The integration of AI should be seen as a complement to, not a replacement for, personal relationships within member clubs. While AI enhances efficiency, human interactions provide the emotional connections that are the backbone of any successful club.

Understanding the importance of this balance is key. AI can handle routine and data-driven tasks, allowing staff to focus on building meaningful connections with members. The human touch remains irreplaceable in cultivating a sense of community and loyalty.

As managers in the club industry, great opportunity exists in understanding the benefits of embracing AI and identifying the solutions best-suited for their operations. Additionally, advocating for and outlining a progressive technology budget with implementation timelines and plans are key to components to success. The return on investment goes above and beyond the membership experience and operational enhancements discussed above. Top candidates for open positions will prioritise private clubs that embrace technology when considering their next career opportunities.

Michael Herd is an International Consultant and Search Executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries. Michael can be reached at +44 (0) 7903 035312 and at

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Enhancing Membership Experience and Operations2024-01-25T22:06:42+00:00

The Importance of Search Committees

The Importance of Search Committees for Country Clubs

If your club is searching for a new GM/COO or another department head position, establishing a search committee is highly recommended. Creating a smooth, effective and efficient process should be the goal for any club hiring a key position. According to Kopplin, Kuebler and Wallace, the most important factor for determining success in hiring a key position is the establishment and makeup of the search committee.

A separate search committee should be formed for each key position and members should be purposefully and carefully selected for each committee. They should meet a certain criterion and possess a willingness to invest the time and energy required for the role. Sitting on a search committee is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

The composition of the committee should include five to seven members who represent various demographics of the club. Odd numbers are best in case of a tie and smaller committees are better because too many opinions hinder the efficiency of the process. Members selected should be frequent users and big supporters of the club. When searching for a key position such as the head golf professional for example, it would be ideal to include golfing members of all ages and abilities on the search committee.

Kopplin, Kuebler and Wallace believe the most vital element of any search committee is confidentiality. Search committee members must never reveal any information about the candidates or their current positions until it has been officially announced by the club. Even the slightest inkling to a friend who may know a candidate or someone at a candidate’s current club could jeopardize the search. Candidates’ jobs could be at stake and the club may lose good candidates or their organizational credibility through the process.

It is also vital to recognize that candidates will be observing search committee members to get a feel for the club culture and whether it aligns with their career goals. Members serving should be positive representatives who thoroughly enjoy the club. While the hiring of department heads ultimately falls under the GM/COO’s responsibilities, including members in the process helps create buy-in and consensus on the decision.

Private Club Advisor – December 2023

Contributed by Richard Kopplin, Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM & Thomas B. Wallace Ill, CCM, CCE, ECM, Partners at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE.

The Importance of Search Committees2024-01-18T17:31:36+00:00

The Power of Employer Branding in a Candidate-Driven Market


In today’s evolving and competitive job market, the balance of power has shifted. With the rise of a candidate-driven landscape, job seekers are active decision-makers in the hiring process. In such a scenario, the concept of “employer branding” has taken centre stage, emerging as a pivotal factor in attracting and retaining top talent. In this piece, we will delve into the significance of incorporating employer branding into your talent strategy and how it can make all the difference in securing the best professional team for your club.

A Paradigm Shift

In a candidate-driven market, the demand for skilled professionals exceeds the available supply. As a result, job seekers have a plethora of opportunities at their disposal, enabling them to be selective about the companies they choose to work for. The conventional recruitment process, where employers held most of the decision-making power, has evolved into a scenario where companies need to be prepared to showcase themselves as an employer of choice.

Crafting an Identity

Employer branding is more than just a buzzword; it is the identity and reputation that a company portrays to the outside world. Just as a strong consumer brand attracts loyal customers, a robust employer brand appeals to first-class candidates who are seeking not just a job, but an experience. In a candidate-driven market, employer branding is the tool that differentiates your club from the rest, making it a preferred destination for the best talent.

Key Elements of Effective Employer Branding

  1. Authenticity: The foundation of any strong employer brand lies in authenticity. It’s not enough to just create a polished image; it must be grounded in reality. Authenticity builds trust and credibility, both of which are crucial in attracting top talent.
  2. Club Culture and Core Values: Candidates are searching for a workplace that aligns with their beliefs and aspirations. A well-defined club culture and strong core values will help candidates resonate with your club and envision themselves as part of your club’s story.
  3. Employee Value Proposition: It’s important to outline what your club offers to employees in terms of benefits, opportunities, and overall work experience. A compelling employee value proposition showcases the unique advantages your club provides and sets it apart from competitors.
  4. Employee Testimonials and Stories: Real stories from current team members can provide a genuine glimpse into daily life at your club. These perspectives serve as powerful endorsements that candidates can relate to.
  5. Engagement and Communication: Regularly engage with your target audience through various channels, such as social media, dedicated space on the club’s website, news releases, and educational opportunities. Identifying relevant brand awareness opportunities and committing to consistent communication nurtures connectivity and keeps your candidate pipeline informed and engaged.

In Conclusion

Cultivating a strong employer brand, especially in the competitive market of hospitality, will prove great return on investment in the areas of securing talent more quickly and lowering recruitment expenditures. A positive perception and strong understanding of the club’s values, culture, and unique offerings will earn a strong pool of prospects when positions become available and result in lower turnover due to the alignment you have already established. Going forward, making a strategic investment in your employer brand will make all the difference in building a thriving and enduring professional team.

Michael Herd is an International Consultant and Search Executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries. Michael can be reached at +44 (0) 7903 035312 and at

The Power of Employer Branding in a Candidate-Driven Market2023-11-30T16:51:02+00:00

Evolving Workplaces

Evolving Workplaces

What makes for a good culture among the employees at a club, and how do clubs maintain it in the face of a continually changing environment? The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things about society, including the culture of the service and hospitality industries.

Technology and employee benefits certainly play a part in culture, but other elements such as communication, acceptance of employees regardless of appearance, and adapting schedules have become even more important.

Culture often starts with good communication. Staying connected with employees during the pandemic by updating them, conducting wellness checks, and engaging with them regularly was greatly appreciated, says Lawrence McFadden, CMC. Now that level of communication is expected, especially as employees return to work and evaluate if the organizations they work for still uphold these values.

“During a recent visit to a club, we inquired about the frequency of their notice board updates,” says Annette Whittley, Search & Consulting Executive at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. “A young assistant manager responded innocently, stating that there was no need for a notice board as all information could be conveyed through messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Teams, or text message.”

This remark illustrates the importance of communicating with our teams in the manner that suits them best, she continues. “Many of our clients use all three of these methods, and it is crucial to establish clarity on what information should be shared through which platform to avoid overwhelming them. We recommend setting clear expectations with your leadership and team on what topics should be discussed in person, through text, or on an app like Teams.”

Read the full article by Jennifer McNally in the 2023 September/October issue of Club Management Magazine.

Evolving Workplaces2023-10-31T10:57:30+00:00

Stop Doing More With Less

Over the past several years, the workforce has changed: baby boomers are retiring in droves, birth rates are down substantially over the last 50 years, work-life balance is a top priority and there are 8.8 million U.S. jobs open and only 6.4 million unemployed Americans. According to human resource experts likes Jodie Cunningham of Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace, employers must adjust accordingly if they are going to compete for talent.

Workers today prioritize well-being and work-life balance more than ever before. “Just because it was once customary to work 60, 70 or 80 hours a week does not make it right for the future. That approach isn’t sustainable,” Cunningham explained. “If clubs continue to overwork the talent they employ, they will drive great employees away from our industry.” Clubs that commit to 40-hour work weeks for their employees reap tremendous benefits in retention and productivity.

Dues increases over the last few years—many of which were fairly significant—have members expecting enhanced experiences, added value and additional amenities and/or services. Clubs should be adding employee positions to ensure all workers have manageable workloads and can complete their duties in 40 hours per week. Yet some boards are expecting and directing their GMs to be cutting expenses and eliminating “unneeded” staff positions. Cunningham maintains that successful clubs are evolving their organizational charts and adding employees to pick up specific duties and provide additional coverage, an initiative that directly improves the member experience.

“In the past five years, clubs have proactively added strategic human resource leaders to their staffs. This person is responsible for quarterbacking the talent strategy with the leadership team,” she said. “Clubs with a strategic people and culture professional have a coordinated plan to recruit, train, develop and retain great people. This directly impacts the member experience.”

Cunningham urges club executives have conversations with their management teams about the current organizational chart and whether it meets the needs of the club today and in the near future. If employees are regularly overworked, it is time to find ways to make those roles more manageable in 40 hours per week. Perhaps adding a communications person to take over club communications or hiring another food and beverage manager to help cover shifts would make sense? Maybe another assistant golf professional is needed so each can get time off each week during peak season? These are the kinds of evolutions necessary to keep workers today.

“It’s also important to be cognizant of behavior fit for the position,” Cunningham warned. “If you put people in roles that don’t suit them naturally, they will burn out and leave, or worse…they will burn out and stay.”

Private Club Advisor – November 2023

Jodie J. Cunningham, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a HR/Talent Strategist, Consultant and Search Executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. She can be reached via email:

Stop Doing More With Less2023-12-07T17:28:48+00:00
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