Slow Down Pencil Whipping at Your Gym

By Alex Lynch April 2, 2021 Blog, Gym
gym coach using clipboard

Your gym probably sees plenty of unusual exercise names, but do you recognize pencil whipping?

Even if you don’t, you’re probably concerned about it. Pencil whipping is the fairly common practice of falsifying checklist and other paper records that are supposed to ensure your facility stays safe for its inhabitants and compliant with regulations. If employees are engaging in pencil whipping at any time in any of your facilities, it could endanger your entire business operation.

These concerns are compounded if your facility prepares and sells food items on site. However, even clubs that don’t have to worry about food safety compliance often include facilities such as saunas and whirlpool tubs where neglect of protocol can result in injury or even death.

What’s the Appeal?

The health and fitness industry is simply awash in licensing statutes and regulations that vary by state, and it can be tough to determine which of your state’s laws apply to your facilities. There are also federal guidelines from governmental agencies like OSHA that are designed to protect your employees as well as your guests. All these regulations, as well as your organization’s branding and customer experience protocols, create the potential for stacks of paper checklists outlining your employees’ and even your contractors’ daily duties. Failure to complete any of these tasks could endanger not only your members but also your employees and the survival of your business.

However, the practical importance of these various clipboards and sheets of paper can be hard to impress upon those who have to fill them out. Common rationales for pencil whipping inside gyms could include:

  • I do these hourly and daily walk-throughs all the time and I’ve never found anything wrong.
  • It’s the time of day when this place is empty; no one will know if I don’t actually follow this procedure.
  • It’s time to clock out and I don’t have time.
  • I haven’t seen anyone touch this equipment since the last time I cleaned it; is it really important that I clean it again?
  • No one ever looks at these checklists; if they don’t care, why should I?

Obviously, you and your management team can’t personally give your full attention to every list on every shift in every facility. Even if you could, it would be much more efficient in the long run for your employees to understand their duties in regard to completing these actions as well as the checklists, which, after all, are important legal documents for your business.

White Lie vs. Legal Record

That word “legal” is the key to this whole issue. Not only do your organization’s checklists ensure your facilities are consistently sanitized and safe; they also demonstrate that your organization is meeting its legal obligations. So, while employees may see pencil whipping as a violation on par with a white lie, it could very well make them personally and your whole business legally liable for any settlement, which could be massive.

When your guests take the step of becoming members, they do so with the expectation and trust that your facilities will be clean, safe and properly maintained every time they visit. Honoring this trust and upholding this expectation must be deeply ingrained throughout your employee training procedures, contractor agreements, customer experience initiatives, and more.

Whip the Pencil Whipping

As the saying goes, if you want to stop pencil whipping, eliminate the pencil. Today’s digital, mobile field apps virtually eliminate checklist falsification by capturing the status of every facility’s operational data in real time. Here’s how:

  • Your operations team uses the app to create digital, standardized templates for all your checklists and procedures.
  • When it’s time to record an action, any employee can pull up the checklist app on their phone.
  • They quickly complete the form with a few taps and clicks, easily adding additional documentation through photos, videos, or even dictation.
  • Their entry is immediately and automatically stamped with the time, their name, and the geolocation. This is now your organization’s official record.
  • Full data from all locations is available through the app’s dashboard; anyone can see whatever they need to, whenever they need to.

Digital field apps make great strides toward eliminating human error and establishing accountability throughout your business operations. No employee can complete tasks for another or misstate when tasks were completed. Your operations team can also standardize quality assessment templates so that field audits get done easily and efficiently, with all results available in real time.

It’s also easy to implement consistent corrective action. When something doesn’t meet specifications, such as an incomplete checklist or an expired training certification, the app prompts the manager to create an action plan from a standardized template; these templates include the remedial task, a completion deadline, and the employee responsible for completing the plan. As the due date approaches, that employee is reminded to finish the plan; then all stakeholders are automatically informed that the plan has been completed on schedule.

Digital field apps also allow your operational team to build customized, effective employee training processes. Modules are assigned to job descriptions so each employee can go online and complete only their most relevant training. From their first day and throughout their employment, all your employees are alerted to the importance of accurate compliance and safety checks and to completing the related forms.

Flex Your Operational Muscle

Gyms and health clubs have seen their share of operational challenges over the past year, and digital field apps like MeazureUp can help stabilize operational procedures and promote best practices. They help your facilities get more done in less time and with potentially fewer employees, while still achieving compliance and minimizing risks.

MeazureUp is a proven digital checklist solution that can ensure all the right actions are being taken at the right time, every time, in every facility. It means your employees are held accountable in a transparent format, and your operations and management teams are always kept in the loop.

To learn more about how MeazureUp can ensure honesty in your compliance records and support consistency across all shifts and all locations, contact us today.