May/June 2022 Magazine

Down to Business

Dealing with Salon & Spa Employee Retention


One of the largest pain-points for salons and spas is employee retention. It's easy for salon or spa owners to feel like they are endlessly interviewing, hiring, and training. They take the time to build up new talent only to have them leave to hire on elsewhere just when the investment begins to pay off.

It's also bad for business to have employees leave. In addition to the cost of training an employee, a high turnover rate can decrease overall staff performance and even affect the salon or spa's morale. That's why it's best to work hard to retain your top employees. Here are some tips to help with employee retention:

Look to Hire Well

Before you can retain employees, you have to hire well. It's always advised to interview candidates carefully, not just to ensure that they have the needed skills but also that they fit in well with your team's culture. Also, think long-term, hiring only the right fit even if it means leaving the position open until you find that fit.

Consider inviting top job candidates in for one last interview. Ask them to wait in the busiest part of the salon or spa and watch how they handle themselves. Are they friendly to your staff? Do they smile at guests? Do they help out without being asked? No matter what position, you want to find someone who is going to be a team player and isn't above stepping up to help with small tasks.

Work Environment & Culture

Employees need to feel safe and comfortable in their everyday work environment. That's why your salon or spa must be lit well, adequately ventilated, and always at a comfortable temperature regardless of the season. Also, the vibe in your business should be friendly and upbeat. Negativity spreads like crazy and can bring everybody down. In addition, unhappy employees will attract unhappy clients, and nobody wants that!

Appreciated, motivated, and engaged employees will make the customer experience memorable. Your team will be more willing to go above and beyond for your customers if they feel valued and appreciated. Accomplish this by making the salon or spa culture both personal and authentic for your staff. Find a way to communicate your vision to your workers and be sure that both you and they always remember to put people first.


A healthy work environment with trust, transparency, and a willingness to work together always centers around effective communication. Employees left in the dark and lacking access to two-way communication are less likely to remain loyal.

Keep it professional but connect with your employees at a personal level. Wish them a happy birthday, encourage personal growth, and be patient with them as they work through any issues. You want your staff to feel as if they are part of an extended family and that they can come to you for anything at any time. Take a few minutes to find out what's going on with your employees in both their professional and personal lives and tap into what's important to them.

Performance Reviews

Perform regular employee and employer reviews. Opt for one-on-one meetings so that you can set goals and clearly define how these goals can be achieved. Just remember that these reviews should be a conversation versus a lecture. Each employee needs to see it as an opportunity to communicate as well as grow, not to be reprimanded.

Truly Listen

Give staff a realistic and open forum to communicate and then take the time to listen to them, including grievances, genuinely. Include your team in significant decision-making opportunities and give them a chance to make suggestions. Now, here's the important part - always take those suggestions seriously. By giving employees a say in the business can make them feel vested in the company, and happy employees are more likely to perform better and stay put longer.

Recognize Accomplishments

Always try to recognize your employees' accomplishments. Thank them for their hard work and loyalty, reward exceptional performance, and acknowledge all major achievements. Praising employees for completing performance goals is one of the most effective ways to make them feel appreciated and want to stay with you for the long haul.

Compensate Well

If you want to hold onto your best people, pay them what they're worth. If you have a high performing stylist, for example, consider offering a bonus or a higher commission rate. You could also come up with a rewards program to encourage them to continue doing well. If your receptionist goes out of their way to keep your operations running smoothly, reward them in some meaningful way. Consider a raise, a promotion with a better job title, a bonus based on profit, or some other form of reward. Regardless, give them as many reasons as possible to stay with your salon or spa.

Try to offer your team competitive benefits. If you have enough employees, consider adding a group health insurance plan, life insurance, and/or a retirement-savings plan. These perks will let your employees know that you are concerned about their well-being and want to help them invest in their future.

Because of the nature of the salon or spa business, being flexible can go a long way with employees should they have family or other personal obligations. Working parents, for example, may appreciate flexible start times or extended breaks later in the day for family responsibilities. Other people may have daycare or custody issues that they need to work around. Some may be working towards a degree and need certain nights off. Regardless, try to be a little flexible when required.

To keep employees happy it's essential to treat them as you'd want to be treated. Respect and compassion do go a long way and can help ensure a healthy and happy work family.

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