Having served in the Navy for over two decades, Lance Sapera understands dedication and the value military servicemen and women bring to the civilian workforce. Now, as Director of Talent Acquisition for 24 Hour Fitness, he’s helping the organization remain successful through continued emphasis on having the right person in the right place at the right time. As Lance explained, “With almost 4 million members you can imagine the individual connections that take place every day, and keeping our members happy is what’s important to us so they can achieve their fitness goals.”

Did you know?

24 Hour Fitness has made both the G.I. Jobs Top 100 Military Friendly Employers® List and Top 25 Military Friendly Spouse Employer for two consecutive years.

His dedication also translates to family. Lance recently celebrated his 25th anniversary, and when asked about his kids, he proudly responded with “Certainly my wife and my kids are my biggest accomplishments.”

In an interview from our conference, Lance and I chatted about the culture at 24 Hour Fitness, the value of hiring from the military, what resonates with him about talent acquisition and benefits of belonging to DirectEmployers Association.


Nancy: How did you find yourself in HR? Tell me a little about your history.

Lance: That’s a good question. I did not begin my career as an HR professional. I was in the Navy for 21 years before joining 24 Hour Fitness over five years ago. My first couple of jobs at 24 Hour Fitness were in different parts of the organization, then two years ago, our Chief People Officer came to me and asked how I felt about recruiting and talent acquisition. I replied, “I think it’s critically important. People are the #1 differentiator for our company.” At that point I was given a new opportunity and jumped at the chance.

Nancy: Aside from being open 24 hours, what is it about your corporate culture sets you apart?

Lance: There’s really something special going on at our company, the 22,000 members we have and our leadership team – we’re excited about what we’re doing. We’re involved in improving people’s lives through fitness. For some people it’s getting off blood pressure medication, for other people it’s training to get their personal best in a marathon. We’re all about supporting those individual fitness journeys.

What sets us apart is really improving people’s lives through the fitness piece. It starts with the individual connection. We understand that people are there for a reason, so we connect with them when they come in the door. It’s the greeting, “Welcome to 24 Hour Fitness,” equipment that works and people that are friendly so that it’s not an intimidating environment that maybe keeps you from not going.

Nancy: Tell me a little bit about the type of people that you hire. What makes your hiring goals different than other places? What do you do really well in the area of hiring?

Lance: What makes us different is we’re really looking for people who are passionate about what they’re doing. You don’t have to be a marathoner or athlete to work at 24 Hour Fitness, but you do need to be passionate about people and enthusiastic about fitness so that you can really help members achieve their fitness goals. Whatever they’re trying to accomplish, you’re there to support them and help them on their fitness journey.

Nancy: What was it about DirectEmployers that you said, “Hmm, this is something that I really need to pay attention to?”

Lance: I liked the idea of all the things I could accomplish with a limited budget with DirectEmployers. As a member company, I get state-of-the-art technology that works for me all the time, without the need to do very much. So that piece, and the fact that they have a mission that can actually help us make more intelligent decisions about what we’re doing around recruiting and staffing, what’s working and what’s not, as opposed to a “gut” feel. I really like the ability they have to help us with search engine optimization. It’s a competitive market out there, and trying to get my company and our positions to stand out is tough, and we’re making progress in this area since becoming a member. I think the fourth thing that really stood out for me with DirectEmployers is just the staff and the support. They think about things that can help 24 Hour Fitness that frankly, I’m so busy and have so many things going on, that I haven’t even had the time to think about.

Nancy: Based on your experience as a military person transitioning to the civilian workforce, what do military folks bring to civilian jobs?

Lance: The military personnel transitioning into the civilian sector are a fantastic pool of talent for countless reasons. They are versatile because every couple of years, most military people get a new assignment. So they know how to go in, learn a new job, become an expert, and train somebody else to do it. They’ve got that flexibility, they have leadership, they have discipline and they understand how to work with a team.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. A huge thank you to Lance for his time. To learn more about how 24 Hour Fitness and others are successfully using the .JOBS TLD, check out http://casestudy.jobs/. You can also catch Lance sharing helpful advice for jobs seekers on preparing for an interview on our Help Wanted blog.

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