Staffing a Dominating Topic at Club Conference

Energy was high as club professionals from around the globe gathered in February for the World Conference on Club Management. With more than 500 first-time conference attendees, it was the highest attended conference to date. Numerous education sessions focused on employee engagement, recruitment, retention and culture, as most clubs are finding these are ever evolving and particularly challenging topics.

Jodie Cunningham, talent specialist with Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace, shared statistics and reasons clubs struggle to find and retain employees. There are 10.4 million jobs open and 5.7 million unemployed Americans. That means there are 1.8 jobs for every unemployed American. The unemployment rate is currently the lowest it has been since 1969 (3.4 percent) yet more than four million people left their jobs each month of 2022. There are so many job opportunities that if employees are unhappy or undervalued, they are quitting and going somewhere else.

The labor shortage also stems from the number of Baby Boomers who are retiring. Over 30 million Baby Boomers reported they are out of the labor force due to retirement. Prior to the pandemic, the normal rate was around three million retirees per year and it jumped to 30 million. “We don’t have anyone to backfill these positions,” Cunningham explained. In addition, birth rates are declining—down over 50 percent worldwide in the last 70 years.

From June 2021 to June 2022 the average hourly wage increased 5.1 percent. The Club Benchmarking Measuring the Impact of Inflation and Wage Pressures Report indicated a 25 percent increase in hourly wages for clubs in the Southeast from 2019 to 2022. Wages for bartenders rose by 36 percent.

Cunningham emphasized it is a job seeker’s market and clubs need to proactively attract and retain their employees. Part of retention also includes managing and mitigating employee burnout. According to Jessica Rector, author, speaker and founder of Blaze Your Brain, a recent study found 79 percent of the workforce is in burnout and a significant amount are experiencing extreme burnout. When polling the crowded room of club managers, about 35 percent of managers reported their teams were in extreme burnout and half of the managers said they themselves were on their way to being burnt-out.

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:

Private Club Advisor – April 2023