How to retain staff in your salon or spa
At our recent annual company awards dinner, we were privileged to present two 25-year service awards and three 20-year service awards to some of our most valued team members. It’s quite something to honour such loyalty and, as you might imagine, it’s an emotional night full of love and laughter (as well as some outrageous partying).
We’ve always tried to create a family ethos within the company, and with 18 people having achieved more than two decades of service, and many more having reached 15 or 10 years, it occurred to me watching the lovely interaction during the speeches we made about each team member (heckling, banter and mickey taking) what a hugely contributing factor the inter-staff relationship is in keeping people in their jobs for so long.
How to create a positive salon environment
We all know that the sector is under threat from self-employment. But I think we forget just what a pull it is to be part of a team. I’m sure that as much as our staff love working at the salon, they don’t just stay because it’s well-run. They stay because they love their colleagues and enjoy feeling comfortable among their peers.
In this age of wokeness, what could be a substitute for working with people who you’ve known so long, you can feel comfortable with and have a playful joke with? It’s a huge attraction, and I wonder whether salon owners who are losing valuable employees to the freelance life are just not shouting loudly enough about it.
Maybe it’s an age thing – I grew up with Monty Python and the pioneers of alternative comedy, where sarcasm, irony and satire were the norm. In these increasingly politically correct times, there’s a real danger of people feeling stifled in their interactions with their co-workers by ensuring they always say the right thing.
Our long-standing crew may not behave the same in front of the younger team members, but when a group of people have been working together for decades, there’s a spirit of togetherness akin to siblings. In fact, they fall out at times like siblings do. But, like most families, woe betide anyone else who criticises their kin. Isn’t that a crucial part of the wonderful glue that holds us all together?
Boosting morale in your salon or spa
I’ve always loved the film It’s A Wonderful Life and I’m fascinated by the concept of being able to look back at what life would be like if one individual had failed to exist. How would your absence impact the people who’ve crossed your path during your life? It’s hugely mind-expanding to ponder such an idea. In my small way, I think of the myriad people who’ve coupled up, made lifelong friends and even started families because they met through the work environment that I’ve been in part responsible for creating.
They say “what’s for you won’t go by you” but isn’t it also a truism that people come together and stay together for a reason? Isn’t that something to celebrate and champion? So, bring on the banter, I say. The joking, the ribbing, the fun and the games is a huge part of why people come to work. Let’s not stifle it completely.
Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London, one of the most profitable independent salons in the UK. She is beauty ambassador for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF).