Three reasons why this soft skill is crucial for spa business success

empathy is key to success

Empathy is key to success in the spa business. This is why it should be top of mind at all times – when recruiting, when hiring, when onboarding and training, and in all day-to-day business operations.

What is empathy? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as: “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.” Empathy is a part of emotional intelligence. It’s understanding and being sensitive to the feelings of the people around you.

This doesn’t mean being a pushover, allowing others to walk all over you, or tolerating rude customer or employee behaviour or substandard work performance. It means being present and aware of the feelings of others.

That empathy is key to success has been said by many of the world’s most accomplished people. For example, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been quoted as saying, “Empathy is everything even in a business context. There was no way we could innovate without having a deeper sense of empathy.” Virgin Group founder and CEO, Richard Branson has said, “In business… companies that want to survive…are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key.”  And Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”

Here are three reasons why empathy is key to spa business success

Empathy builds good customer relationships

Empathy is particularly important for success in spa and wellness. Guests come to us, often feeling vulnerable about their health, wellbeing, and physical appearance. Our team members spend time with them in close quarters, often making physical contact and listening to them talk about their lives and their problems. This type or relationship requires trust, for which empathy is required. Empathetic team members create lasting relationships with spa guests.

Moreover, empathy creates loyal customers. One study found that employee empathy had a positive impact on customer loyalty, including positive word-of-mouth and repurchase intentions.

Empathy improves work performance

Leaders who master listening and responding with empathy score more than 40% higher in overall performance, coaching, engaging others, planning and organizing, and decision making, according to a study by DDI. The same organization has found that empathy is the top critical driver of overall performance and that 91% of CEOs believe empathy is directly linked to a company’s financial performance.

Empathy helps you tune into the world around you, encouraging mindfulness, which in turn makes us notice what needs to be done and do it with intention.

Empathy helps attract and retain top talent

It’s been said that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. To empower employees to be empathetic, this needs to some from the top down, with leaders modelling behaviour. DDI also found that 90% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. And separate research has found that “leaders with a good self-insight, who are humble and act as credible role models, are rewarded with committed and service-minded employees.”

Meanwhile, employees who feel included are reportedly more innovative in their jobs and more likely to go beyond the call of duty to help other team members and meet group objectives.

Creating an empathetic culture at your spa starts with owners, directors and managers. Begin by learning to be empathetic with your team members and your guests — and see the difference it makes.