3 reasons spa employees quit and what to do about them

common reasons spa employees quit

Wondering why employees are leaving? Take a look at these three common reasons spa employees quit  and what to do about them.

Staffing is an ongoing issue in hospitality and spa, more so now than ever. People are leaving their jobs and looking for other lines of work. Or they’re stepping away to work for themselves and start their own businesses.

According to the BBC, UK, industry bodies say one in five workers has left the sector during the coronavirus pandemic, and separate reports suggest that hotels and resorts everywhere are dealing with a similar situation.

Omni Hotels & Resorts President Peter Strebel reportedly said that, for the first time in his career, he can’t sell out hotels because there isn’t enough staff to meet demand. Strebel said Omni has tried sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, and more paid time off to attract and keep employees.

In Ottawa, the company raised housekeeper wages from $14 to $20 per hour – and Strebel said, “We filled all our positions.”

Obviously, one of the easiest ways to fix this issue is to pay people more. There are other factors to consider as well.

Once you manage to hire someone, you want to keep them. Recruiting and onboarding is expensive and constant turnover has a negative impact on operations. While the pandemic has demonstrated that we can’t predict the future, we can still take measures to retain team members and safeguard against employee attrition.

Here are three common reasons spa employees quit and what you can do about them.

Lack of advancement opportunities

A lack of advancement opportunities consistently ranks across all industries as the top reason employees quit their jobs, even before money.

A 2020 CareerAddict survey and a 2017 Gallup survey found that lack of advancement opportunities was the top reason people quit their jobs, beating out pay in both cases. Regardless of job or sector, people get tired of doing the same thing day in and day out with no future growth opportunities. No matter how enthusiastic someone is about the company or job when they join a team, the novelty will eventually wear off. They will become demoralized and demotivated, which negatively impacts their performance and your success.

In any company, however, there are only so many management positions. What can you do? Some options include implementing performance-based pay incentives (beyond commissions), and involving your team in the decision making process.

A Forbes article titled “3 Ways To Keep Employees Motivated When A Promotion Isn’t An Option And A Raise Isn’t In The Budget” suggests empowering employees with exposure to executive responsibilities:

“Raise the bar by giving them more responsibility and challenging tasks that are still achievable with their skillset. Start by giving them more control over tasks and take a step back allowing them a chance to derive their own solutions and make their own decisions.

“While the upper management is the one to implement processes, the employees are the one in the trenches feeling the impact of their decisions.”

This might mean involving people in creating new treatment menu items and marketing campaigns, for example.


Burnout is a long-standing issue in the spa industry and it happens when employees are worked too hard.

In a 2019 interview with Spa Executive , Sonal Uberoi addressed this issue and said,  “[Burnout] becomes more evident in spas within hotels and resorts where staff scheduling is heavily dependent on hotel occupancy. Spa staff suddenly find that their days off have been pushed back, so they have to work seven or eight days in a row — or more! — and management have to be at the hotel from morning to when the VIP client leaves his or her treatment at the end of the day, which can mean a 10-12 hour shift. These small ‘one offs’ slowly become the norm, which over time eventually lead to burnout.”

And this may be more of an issue two years later. We recently spoke to Benjamin Donat at St. Regis Deer Valley, who said he’s been understaffed through the 2021 season. Donat said, “This affects both the guests and the existing team; guests because sometimes they need a wellness or spa experience, and we can’t provide it at the time they want because we’re overbooked, and staff because I have to be careful not to overwork them and cause burnout.”

Combatting burnout can take some doing but it’s something spa directors should take seriously, because what might seem profitable in the short term will cost you in the long term, when employees are not at their best and when they quit.

Ways of combatting burnout include creating wellness programs for staff and making staff wellbeing a priority, which might mean accepting fewer appointments in a day. Revisiting staff schedules can also be helpful. There are tools to help with this, including software to optimize staff scheduling.

Bad management

A recent survey of workers across sectors reportedly found that most people are pretty happy with their managers, but of those who rated their managers badly, 63% were planning to quit in the next 12 months and 70% said their team members were also planning to move out of the team or company.

It would be easy to argue that employee attrition comes down to bad management more often than not, however, because so many other cited reasons are actually due to bad management, including the aforementioned burnout.

Gallup found that only 17% of people cite bad management as a reason for quitting, but also noted that almost every other reason on the list was something that management could influence. Among these factors are company culture, pay and benefits, flexibility and scheduling, and job security. These are all things that are governed, at least in part, by management who should be doing their best to create great work environments.

How can we be great managers? By constantly working to do better.

Some things great leaders do include:

  • Listening: The ability to listen is what makes the difference between bad leaders and great leaders.
  • Being supportive: Working in a spa can be physically taxing and tiring – and repetitive. A team needs a supportive manager who has their backs.
  • Leading by example: Take responsibility for your failures as well as your successes, and inspire your team to go above and beyond the call of duty by doing so yourself.
  • Effectively communicating goals: Set goals, communicate them to your team, and outline the tactics for achieving them. When employees feel that they are instrumental to the success of an organization, they are more inclined to work towards achieving it.
  • Being open to feedback and suggestions: You are not infallible and you might sometimes be wrong, or have ideas that could use improvement.

Employee retention takes work. But the work is worth it and will have big benefits.


Is finding and retaining talent a challenge at your spa? Get insights from industry leaders, including Nigel Franklyn, Lynne McNees, Verena Lasvigne-Fox, and Daisy Tepper when you download our report: What will it take to fix the spa industry’s staffing shortage? .


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

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