Four reasons good spa employees quit their jobs

The cost of employee turnover is high. How high depends on who you ask.

A 2012 paper from the Center for American Progress stated in that the average cost of replacing a highly skilled employee could be up to 213% of one year’s salary for that role. Another report gave a more conservative estimate of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace that employee. Or between $25,000 – $37,500 to replace an employee making $50,000 a year.

Regardless, with recruiting, hiring, training, and onboarding, it costs more to replace people than it does to keep them. So, if your staff turnover is high, and your good employees are quitting, it’s in your best interest to figure out what’s going on and why they are leaving.

Below is a list of the most likely reasons reasons your spa employees are quitting.

Caveat: this is assuming your staff is adequately compensated for their work, of course. Researchers love to suggest that money is unimportant compared with other employee motivation and retention tactics. But we all know that, if someone isn’t paid enough to live, that’s not true. Employees are more likely to remain if they are well paid, and likely to leave if they are not.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at four reasons employees are leaving your spa that aren’t to do with compensation.

They don’t like the manager. Most people who quit their jobs do it for one reason – they don’t like their manager. Research consistently shows that dissatisfaction with one’s boss or management is either the number one reason people quit jobs, or among the top three (depending on the study). If this is a possibility, it’s time to start looking at your spa’s management style. Remember to keep communication open, the be supportive and patient, to thank employees for jobs well done, and to offer praise – not just criticism — where it is due.

You don’t have their backs. This falls under the same category as not liking a manager, but deserves its own bullet point.  Spa services are hands on, they’re personal, and they take place between an often half-dressed individual and a service provider, in an enclosed space (in which the service provider is also often expected to play psychotherapist). And so spa employees are subject to potential harassment, and are also in a position to be made the unfair targets of customer complaints – because spa services are also highly personal for the guest. A good spa manager who wants to keep their employees from leaving should be aware of this vulnerability, and let the employees know that they are supported– and then actually be there to support them when the time comes. I’ve heard stories of managers who didn’t support their team members in bad situations, and this is not something easily forgotten by the team member, who will find another job as soon as it’s available.

They’re overworked. This was ranked one of the top reasons for staff attrition in any industry in a 2014 Robert Half survey. And spa staff can burn out more easily than those in other jobs, as their roles can be both physically and emotionally taxing. The tendency to overwork spa staff has also been cited as a shortfall of many spa managers in a recent interviews we’ve conducted regarding staffing in the industry. Management should be checking in with their team to ensure that they don’t burn out.

No growth or advancement opportunities. Opportunities for growth and advancement also consistently rate high on reasons why people take jobs and choose to remain or not remain in them. If an employee is giving massages or pedicures all day long — day in, day out — in the same environment, for the same pay; and that’s what they will be doing for the foreseeable future, they are going to become demoralized and demotivated, or just plain bored, and start looking for something else.

I listed this one last, however, because offering growth opportunities and career pathing isn’t easy in spa, where room to move up can be limited. This is something you might find more difficult to overcome.

Other options include implementing performance-based pay incentives, and involving your team in the decision making process. The latter creates a feeling of partnership and empowerment.

Paying attention to these key factors will go a long way towards improving your employee retention.

Spa Connectors’ Kathryn Moore on the dire need for a new approach to training in the spa industry

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