Are you making these spa management blunders that cost you employees?
Spa management isn’t easy and neither is attracting and retaining top talent. And you definitely need to be good at the latter in order to do the former.
Spa is pretty much in a staffing crisis, according to many. Even when we can find people to join our teams, we can’t keep them around, as they often leave to start their own businesses or work independently.
The good news is that much of this employee turnover can probably be reduced by making some changes to some unfortunate spa management practices.
We looked back at some interviews we’ve done with spa industry experts on staffing and employee retention, and found a lot of valuable insights on what we should and should not be doing if we want top talent to stick around.
Here are five common spa management blunders that cost you employees
Burning employees out
Spa team members are often overworked and exhausted , because managers aren’t thinking about the bigger picture. Leaders feel pressured to fit in as much as possible to maximize revenue, and pushing service providers to do more work days and cram in more treatments can seem like an effective business strategy. But this tactic is short sighted, and will cost you a lot more than it saves – particularly in high staff turnover.
Sonal Uberoi of Spa Balance Consulting told us in a recent interview that spas should make staff wellbeing a priority “instead of therapist productivity and financial targets.” She added, “Needless-to-say, the latter are important, but without the former, the latter is not possible.”
Hiring for skill and experience over attitude
We recently asked Todd Hewitt, Assistant Vice President of Spa at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, what characteristics he looks for in talent. He said, “A smile, sense of humor, and eagerness. I don’t care about experience. That can be quickly learned.”
It’s one of the oldest pieces of hiring wisdom out there, and yet so many people ignore it. Do so at your own peril. If you hire someone who is lacking skill and experience but has a great attitude, they will be eager to learn and will soon have the experience and a great attitude. If you hire someone who has all the skills and experience, but a bad attitude, they will always have a bad attitude. Because those things rarely change, and that will always be a problem.
Not giving team members autonomy and responsibility
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. And yet, so many managers micromanage and don’t invite team members into the decision process or trust then to govern themselves. Few things are more disheartening to an adult than not being treated like one.
Todd Hewitt said in his interview, “I love looking into the eyes of individuals who want to learn more or take on more tasks. As difficult as it is to let go of control, give them extra jobs or duties and see how they do. Provide goals and deadlines. And when completed, be honest with them and tell them what you like and what could be improved.”
Not communicating expectations and establishing boundaries
Team members need to be told what the goals and targets of an organization are. They need to know what sort of a guest experience you aim to provide (a fantastic one, obviously…but with details and touches specific to your spa), and how you will provide it. If this is not communicated, they will ultimately fail to live up to expectations, because nobody can live up to expectations when they don’t know what those expectations are. This results in frustration and disappointment for everyone, and creates a bad employee experience.
Boundaries are also key. In an article on creating a drama free workplace, Eric Stephenson of Elements Massage recently told us, “I noticed that when the leadership was good at establishing boundaries and communicating expectations, there were fewer negative emotions draining the culture.”
We are all better when we know what is expected of us and where the boundaries are.
Not treating staff like important people
When we spoke with Daisy Tepper, Spa Manager at the Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, about how she and her team managed to earn a Five Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide just three months after opening, she talked about treating her staff like guests.
Tepper said, “Treating them with the utmost respect is very important to me. The way I see it, they’re my internal guests, and if I take care of them, they will take care of the other guests. The bread and butter comes from these people. When you treat people well, they will go above and beyond.”
And when you don’t treat people well, they will leave.
At the end of the day, if you treat your team members they way you would like to be treated, you’ll keep them around longer.
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