Staffing is one of the biggest challenges for spas. Places just can’t find the talent they need – and if they do find the talent, it doesn’t stick around.
This problem isn’t unique to spas. Research conducted at Workopolis by Peter Harris and me in 2014 found that more than half of people now stay in jobs for an average of just two years.
But that doesn’t actually solve anything.
Part of the problem with spa staffing is the education system; schools selling a false reality in order to sell their programs.
This is according to Daryll Naidu, former director of Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. In his time at Miraj Hammam, Naidu had a 95% employee retention rate, which is wildly impressive in an industry where many list employee acquisition and retention among their top concerns. I asked him to share some of his insights.
“Students have this misconception that as soon as they finish school they’re gong to be walking into a job making fifty to sixty thousand dollars a year because that’s the expectation that’s created for them,” says Naidu.
He sits on the board of two schools and encourages spa directors to get involved with their local education program to advise on how they can help prepare students for what is really out there.
In the here and now, though, we recognize that you’ve got a spa to run. So, here are three tips for attracting a keeping top talent.
Look at your management team.
A bad relationship with the boss is the number one reason people quit jobs. If you’re bleeding staff, it’s likely a problem with your management. Make sure they are setting an example and are happy in their own roles.
Naidu says, “A revolving door with your management team, creates instability with the staff. There’s no real leader, people are coming, and policies change because leaders have different management styles, and different focus areas.
“Change is good,” Naidu says, “but so is stability in the right areas.”
Empower your staff.
Involving your employees in the decision making process will give them a sense of ownership in the business and people are much more likely to work hard for the success of something that is theirs.
“I involve my team as much as possible in the decision making process,” says Naidu. “Especially the ones who have been here from the start because it’s their spa as well.”
Empowerment and autonomy are key ingredients for a happy and productive team. Numerous studies show that employees who are given autonomy are both happier and more productive than workers with less autonomy.
Create pathways to advancement.
This is really key. In more research conducted by Harris and me, we found that all things being equal with compensation, benefits, and location the most important factor when evaluation a position was “opportunities for advancement.” However, managers usually look outside to hire for senior roles and 88% of employees have to change jobs to move up – which is frustrating and disheartening.
Naidu says, “I realized through trial and error how important it is to provide opportunities for my current staff to grow into new positions.”
He’s recently taken a unique approach to advancement, with a vacant management role.
“I had staff that probably could fill that role in a year’s time but not yet. So, I decided not to fill that spa manager role, and instead created two supervisory positions which I opened up for application to my entire team. I plan on promoting two internal candidates to supervisory roles, and hopefully in a year one of them will move into that manager role, leaving a supervisory position for someone else to move into.”
Finally, be willing to learn from your mistakes.
Successful leaders learn and grow. If you expect this from your staff, they should be able to expect it from you.
After all, you’re all in this together