Reduce spa employee turnover with these simple tactics

Reduce spa employee turnover

Employee turnover is a big problem in spa and wellness, and it costs your business. Here are some ways to reduce spa employee turnover by creating a feeling of upward mobility

Research repeatedly shows that one of the main reasons people quit any job is a lack of opportunity for advancement. For example:

  • A survey by Gallup found that 93% of U.S. adults say that the last time they changed roles – presumably, in many cases, to move up — they changed companies. Only 7% say they took a new position at the same company.
  • Another survey of more than 10,000 people by LinkedIn found that the number one reason people change jobs is for career advancement.
  • A survey conducted by me and Peter Harris of Yackler Corp. found that, all things being equal when it comes to salary, benefits, and location, “opportunities for advancement” was the most important factor for job seekers when considering a new position.
  • A survey by Addison Group found that 40% of millennials expect a promotion every one to two years.

So, as you can see, it matters. A lot. This can be a problem in any industry, including spa and wellness, particularly in a small business where creating these opportunities isn’t always easy.

There are only ever so many senior leadership and mid level management positions, while there is always a need for many service providers and support staff. Moreover, spas often have small profit margins and little room for growth, which means raises are out of reach. You simply can’t promote everyone. Unfortunately, people like to feel that we are advancing – forward and upward. And when we don’t, we feel that we’re in a rut, and we get bored performing the same duties day in and day out. And then you lose your talent, either to another spa or to start their own business, a common move in this industry.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to create a feeling of upward mobility when opportunities for advancement are few to none. Here are six ways to do that.

1. Involve employees in the decision making process.

When people are given ownership of a goal and feel that they are an integral part of the success of a company they are more invested than when they feel that they are just replaceable parts. Not only does involving team members in the decision making process give them a sense of ownership, it provides valuable perspectives and input that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And, if these decisions lead to growth and increased revenue, there will ultimately be room for raises and promotions.

2. Have conversations with team members about career goals.

Ask your employees where they see themselves in the future, and see if you can’t find a way to align those goals with that of your company. Maybe a massage therapist has dreams of becoming a certified osteopath or Gyrotonic instructor and this could work with your ultimate plans for expansion. As long as you’re the sort of leader with whom people are comfortable talking, almost nobody is going to say “I have no career goals.” These people may become even more instrumental in your spa’s future success.

3. Assign cross duties.

Once you’ve had the conversation, use employee’s skills where you need them. Many spas have no staff dedicated to marketing, and yet, marketing is essential. Maybe your therapists or front desk staff are interested in getting to work on social media or other marketing efforts. Perhaps your facialist is excellent at creating incredible product displays. People like to be given extra responsibility and to feel that they’re making a contribution.

4. Encourage a learning environment.

Create an environment in which team members are encouraged to advance their skills and learn from each other, even across skillsets. Partner with schools that offer related courses and programs and host group learning activities. If an employee wants to advance their skillset they will do it with or without you, and if they do it with you, you may reap the benefits.

5. Reward team members for performance.

Team members may already be earning sales commissions, but what about incentives for bringing in new customers or retaining them? Performance-based pay, in the form of bonuses on top of a base wage or salary, can apply to more than direct sales. Ask how you can reward employees for performance and what type of performance you can reward.

6. Create a system of mini promotions within your existing framework.

Keith Jackson, Vice President of Human Resources at AT&T, is quoted in INC magazine on this topic. He said: “We were seeing turnover in our college hire program because they felt there was no upward mobility. We took a job that had three logical progressions over 5-7 years and inserted 4 more steps. This allowed the employees to be promoted in place (with new fancy titles) as they met productivity, leadership, competency, and training thresholds.” And it worked. Read more about this idea here.

Create positions like senior therapists, specialists, directors, managers, leaders, and trainers, each of which comes with additional responsibility and either small monetary increases, more time off, or increased benefits. Note that, when giving an employee extra responsibility, it’s important to find a way to offload some of their other responsibilities. Otherwise they will just resent the extra burden.  

7. Always be learning and developing yourself

It’s also important to always be improving your own business acumen. There’s an elephant in this room,  and that is the fact that many spa employees are overworked and underpaid. This happens in part because many spa managers need to work on their own business sense. Take online courses and devote yourself always to improving operations and guest experience and to growth.

If you can keep your spa employees engaged and feeling like they’re moving forward, you might not have to watch them leave.