Keeping Them Sweet

Keeping Them Sweet

When it comes to staff, money isn’t everything. Here’s what else you can entice your team with to ensure they stay happy, motivated and bringing in business…

It sounds simple but without a happy workforce you run the risk of falling short of your business goals, putting off future employees and investors and most crucially, losing both your staff and your clients. Rather than a brief afterthought, how content your team is should be your number one priority. “It’s  vital because your staff are what keep clients coming back and they’re what generates the revenue. Without them there would be no salon so they must always be treated fairly and generously,” says Emily Ash, owner of beauty salon, Browns Loughborough and who has a staff force of 15 to mentor. Research by Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage also found that if you have a positive and engaged workplace sales will increase by 37% and productivity by 31%. 

However it’s not always easy to keep staff on a high 24/7 and stats show that Britain is currently suffering from a motivation crisis with 45% of workers believing that they would be more productive if they loved their work. But it’s not all doom and gloom because business owners have the power to turn things round. Find out what makes your staff tick and you won’t have to panic about turnover, sickies and poor performance.

It’s natural to think that the biggest driver for employees is a bigger wage but more often than not, this isn’t the case. The Happiness Index conducted a survey of 2500 respondents and found that the top five factors that improved staff motivation were feeling valued as an individual; doing a job they enjoyed; work-life balance; pay and benefits and trust in the people you work with. Yes, money was number four.
For the hair and beauty industry ‘commission’ is commonly used to boost salary but that’s a problem in itself according to Liz McKeon, ex-salon owner, business consultant and author of ‘30 Days to Beauty Business Success’. “A lot of staff are unsure what commission is about or how it works which can be demotivating. My advice would be to sit down with them and ask what they’d like to do with their commission – is it for lunches, a holiday, a wedding, a new car and then give them starting points on what they need to sell in units and services to hit their target. Get them to see their column as a little business in a bigger business and then split it up into half days or hours. Make sure they know how much they need to earn that hour and how much they need to sell to hit their targets. Explain the tax and VAT – work it out for them or with them if needs be. This will mean they have a set goal and that’s motivating in itself.” Great if money is the hook but like we said, for most employees it’s towards the bottom of the wishlist - it’s feeling valued that gets the top spot and is where trust and communication come into play.

Celebrity stylist and salon owner, Jamie Stevens’ one piece of advice for a buzzing bank of workers is communication. “At some point all business owners will have negative staff situations simply because you can’t keep everybody happy all of the time but by keeping communication channels open and listening to any grievances it’s always possible to turn things into a positive. There’s very little that can’t be fixed with a compromise or discussion.”
Communicating with staff takes time and effort but let it slide and so will that all-important motivation. When Liz McKeon ran her salon she met with every member of staff on a one-to-one basis before they started their shift. “Just three to five minutes before they went to their station or treatment room meant I could check in with them and go through their column,” says Liz. “We would also look at who was coming in for what as the beauty of the salon is you know what clients have bought before or the treatments they like so you have an opportunity to upsell but also give a well thought-out recommendation for products or future services. This sort of interaction between boss and staff is imperative. If you want to get the best out of your team you need them to trust and respect you. Considering their needs, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them, is priceless. “As well as daily check-ins spend time with your staff in a strategic manner and have a motivational plan for each of them,” continues Liz. “Tell them to describe their favourite day at work and get them to be honest - maybe they don’t like acne treatments but love Indian head massages. Maybe they don’t like specific shifts - then work together on tailoring their services better. This will mean they can manage their diaries more effectively and help build a client base that suits them.”

Just like you wouldn’t give every client the same haircut or facial, don’t use a cookie cutter approach with your staff. “The interesting thing about staff is that different team members are motivated by different incentives – some are really excited about going on stage, or working on TV with me, others are horrified by the idea and want to work a full column, others love learning and want to do as many courses as possible or they might want to do more photographic work – the secret is to know what makes everyone tick and then offer them the relevant incentive,” advises Jamie Stevens. Remember, knowledge is power and once you have that bond with your team, it will become a two-way street of success. Give them what they want and they’ll return the favour. It’s also important that they get feedback from you, too. If they don’t know what’s expected of them, they might feel like they’re not delivering and then feel like they’re failing. By understanding things like your financial goals and the direction the business is going in you’re treating them with respect, trust and appreciation. Training is another way you can show you value your staff. Nurturing and ensuring they are up-to-date and on top of industry initiatives and services will help them secure new clients, extra money as well as a clear career development path. “All of our staff have trained in HD Brows with some going on to achieve Pro Stylist status and all have been trained in Dermalogica and are now Dermalogica Experts which means they’ve completed over 20 days of training courses for just one brand,” explains Emily Ash, owner of Browns Loughborough. Just one word of caution from Liz McKeon when it comes to investing in training – “it’s tempting when taking on a new staff member to pay for lots of training but my advice would be to hold off until they have a client base. Test drive them for up to two months and let them earn their training and that will give you time to see if they fit with you, your team and your business.”

Be mindful of the fact that it’s not just the two of you in this, you need your staff to get on with one another too and team building plays a vital part. From breakout areas to workshops to team outings you might not have Google’s budget (they provide free massages, Michelin-star quality food and fancy gyms for their staff) but do what you can. “We regularly pay for the staff to go on trips and in the last couple of years we’ve been to Ibiza, Paris and Iceland. It gives them a much needed break from work and also helps the team to bond and experience travelling to new places,” says Emily. That’s not the only alluring initiative Browns Loughborough has in place. As well as a yearly pay rise, extra holiday day and bonuses, they receive perks such as free in-house treatments every month, a ‘friends and family’ discount and they can buy products the salon stocks at cost price. Then there’s the shift pattern. “Probably most important to them is that all full time staff get a paid Saturday per month off on a rota basis (excluding December) which is basically 11 free holiday days a year,” she says. Which shines the spotlight on your staff’s work life balance – number three in The Happiness Index’s survey. With seven days a week openings, longer hours and less staff, the last thing you want is your team dreading coming to work or seeing work as a chore. That leads to stress, burnout and resentment. By offering flexible shift patters, extra annual leave or split shifts that suit other commitments in their lives such as childcare or even longer lunch breaks to allow them to attend a yoga class or do their weekly shop, they’ll return happier, more engaged and eager to please.

Do all of the above and you’ll be able to create a culture that’s not only creative but where staff, clients and you as a business owner feel valued, respected and trusted. Get that right and you’ll have potential employees and customers queuing out of your door. 


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