4 ways to motivate salon staff in the busy Christmas period

Boosting team morale during the busy Christmas period can be tricky for any salon or spa owner. It may seem challenging keeping that momentum going during jam-packed columns and extended hours, but it is possible with a little consideration of what makes your staff tick.  

To get the most out of your team during the busiest time of the year, look at your working environment and figure out what you can change for the better, as well as delving deeper into what incentivises each of your beauty therapists to ensure they're delivering a first-class treatment every time. These small changes will dampen any stress by making the salon a fun place to be during the holidays while also boosting revenue – it's a win-win. 

4 ways to motivate and incentivse your salon team during the busy Christmas period: 

1. Give them something to look forward to

“Keeping staff motivated to do their best work during the festive season is one of the hardest things to achieve as a salon owner,” says Nicole Blacklock, CND education ambassador and co-owner of Absolutely Fabulous Nail Bar and Beauty Salon in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear. “It’s the busiest time of year, with long hours, not many breaks and all of your clients are in a rush.” For these reasons, Blacklock says it’s important not to forget that it’s your staff who bear the brunt, and that they need to recoup too.

“We have a hamper filled with prizes for clients and use the money from this towards a spa day in January for all of us to relax,” she says. “The salon pays the balance so the team don’t worry about affording it, and we chat, eat nice food and all get treatments. It’s something for us all to look forward to once the busy period is over. It works perfectly.”

Samantha Humberstone, owner of Lotions n Potions in Sheffield, also suggests a team spa day: “Let them be the ones who are pampered for a change,” she says. 

Christmas fairy cakes

2. Find the right incentives

While time off in December is usually not possible, giving therapists Christmas Eve off would go a long way towards boosting morale. “All of our staff have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off; and we open additional hours the week before to compensate,” says Blacklock. She adds that although it can be tempting to stay open in order to fit in extra last-minute bookings, “it’s so important to be firm with clients and stick to your opening hours over the festive period, otherwise you’ll be working all night”.

Many salon owners who employ younger therapists agree that financial incentives aren’t as effective as they used to be. Rewarding staff with time off could prove to be much more of an encouragement to put in extra work during December. “I’ve found that millennials don’t strive for commission or have the urge to make more money that I did when I was starting out,” says Kelly Murgatroyd, owner of Prestige Health and Beauty in Morecombe, Lancashire. “Instead, I now give incentives of days off and free gifts. This Christmas, I’ll be giving employees a target to hit to receive a Saturday off with their commission.”

For Ian Egerton, owner of The Stress Exchange Hair and Beauty Salon in London, getting to know what makes each therapist tick has proved the most effective way to incentivise them. “During December, when we usually need greater capacity, we encourage therapists to be flexible with their time so we can sell extra appointments in the run up to Christmas,” he says. “We offer them the opportunity to accrue time in December that they can then take off in lieu in the New Year.” To add an extra sweetener, Egerton usually offers time and a half.

3. Create a festive atmosphere

There’s no reason why employees shouldn’t get to take part in festivities at work over the Christmas period, providing they still work efficiently. “To shift the focus away from the physical effort of the run up to Christmas we like to inject some fun into the salon,” says Egerton.

“Over the years, we’ve tried many different things, such as fancy dress on Christmas Eve, a festive jumper day for charity and a team Secret Santa where we provide low-cost but fun prizes.” Similarly, treating staff to festive snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks of their choice as they rush through busy days and long evenings could help keep Christmas cheer alive.

To boost morale and say thank you on the busiest days in December, Egerton often arranges for lunch to be delivered to the salon. “Or sometimes at the end of a day if we’re all finishing together we’ll arrange pizzas, especially if it’s an extra-late finish,” he adds.

Thank you gift

4. Show them your appreciation

“Heading towards Christmas, we’re focused on seasonal treatments, shiny retail displays and trying to make the most of upping our revenue, but what about our staff?” asks Humberstone. It’s important not to forget that a successful Christmas period wouldn’t be possible without your team, and with that in mind, it’s the perfect time to let them know how appreciative you are for their service the whole year round.

“Never underestimate a simple thank you card or a certificate of achievement,” she adds. “Sometimes it’s the smaller, thoughtful touches that we really appreciate and remember.” There are other simple but effective ways to give back to the team despite being extra busy and focused on Christmas revenue.

A tactic Egerton uses to incentivise staff for the final December push is the promise of a Christmas bonus before they finish. “To drive sales of gift cards and treatment courses in December, we offer team incentives that rely on everyone pulling together so no one misses out. We set a team target based on either financial goals or units sold, and then give a bonus by way of a percentage (usually between 5–10%) of sales made in December,” he explains. “We make sure we pay the team bonus out just before we finish for Christmas, as everyone loves having extra cash for the festive season.”

Check out Liz McKeon’s advice on how to boost the morale of your staff in salons and spas