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Controlling Salon & Spa Employee Turnover

Controlling Salon Spa Staff Turnover

We all know that employees come and go. Every business has employee turnover and attrition. For salons and spas, turnover is an ongoing issue.

Getting stuck in the “employees just don’t stay with salons/spas very long” thinking can lead business cultures down a dangerous path...where employees are regarded as commodities, rather than the precious resources they are.

Too many owners are saying, “Why train them and build them if they’re just going to leave?”


Because in order to deliver quality service and technical skill … and build a viable brand … investing in training and developing employees is a non-negotiable.

Today, owners should be fighting to change this thinking - not feed it.

No owner can justify unacceptable employee turnover as a cost of doing business.

If an employee quits your company for any reason other than...

  • personal issues

  • relocation

  • health problems

  • a career opportunity that doesn’t exist in your company...

...your staff retention systems need work.

Employee turnover is a costly drain on your resources and cash flow. All that time and expense devoted to recruit, select, train and develop an employee into a productive contributor is lost when he or she walks out the door.

Sure you could have recruited and screened better, but consider this:

What if you hired the PERFECT employee, but something in the leadership process or culture at your salon/spa turned them to the dark side and pushed them out the door?

I totally support and encourage better employee screening, job profiling and job matching, and how these up-front hiring systems can improve employee retention. However, the fundamental question is:

What happens when that thoroughly screened and job-matched employee gets stuck working for a compromising leader in a contaminated culture?

You guessed it, turnover.

And systems alone cannot overcome the turnover problems and related costs that compromising leaders create.

It’s not uncommon to find myself coaching owners who are their own worst staff retention problems. In fact, they appear to be blind to the problem or unwilling to see themselves as a possible cause. I can only chuckle when I think about how many times managers have asked me, “Is there any way we can fire the boss?”

Yes, it’s disturbingly sad when the employees get it and their leaders do not. In most cases, these committed employees, who believe in the salon/spa and its vision, leave out of frustration. They are clearly the right hires that got stuck working in the wrong company.

Every business has its own little society with its share of internal politics, disgruntled employees, and performance issues. It doesn’t matter if your business has ten or 10,000 employees, pulling them together into a cohesive high-performance team is the true work of leadership.

  • Do it with no-compromise leadership and you will attract and retain the best.

  • Do it with compromise and you will get nothing more than a costly revolving door that employees pass through on their way to a better opportunity.

Staff turnover may naturally occur in business no matter what, but it still needs to be managed and controlled. Here are a few revealing signs that your staff retention efforts and systems need attention:

  • Unacceptable behaviors, such as lateness, absenteeism, attitudes and poor productivity have noticeably increased. Abrupt and negative behavior changes are a sure sign that problems and frustrations exist and will further deteriorate. As leader, it’s time to open the lines of communication to find out what’s going on and what needs to be done to fix it. Ignoring negative behavior is a compromise.

  • The work environment has been stressful lately and it’s clear that employees are far from content. One or two employees quit or resign - then a few more follow. When clusters of employees begin leaving … or walking out … it’s a big red flag that demands immediate attention and open dialog with employees. They need to vent and you need to listen - really listen. The right solution can always be found when you invest the time and reach out to understand what their “pain” is.

  • Employees are ratcheting up their complaints about their manager. Performance reports also indicate that something isn’t right. Interview some of the employees to gain their insights.

    • Have that fierce conversation with that manager to discuss his or her challenges. Sometimes you can “save” a manager by helping them identify and address their leadership weaknesses - or by reassigning them to a role that’s a better fit.

    • Other times, you may need to let them go before problems get out of hand.

    • NOTE: There are times when employees won’t voice their concerns about a manager because they don’t think you’ll listen or do anything to address their concerns. Other times, there’s fear of reprisal from that manager or the company for speaking up. It leads to turnover and it’s all driven by compromise.

  • Staff retention is a business outcome. It’s the end result of all your systems, leadership and culture. Excellent staff retention is the hallmark of the no-compromise leader.

It’s the culture that makes great salons and spas truly great … that allows world-class performance to take place. It is your business culture that attracts and retains staff. It’s your culture - your company’s collective behavior patterns - that lifts and draws your company to its vision.

When compromise begins to spread, it’s your contaminated culture that drags your company down, makes it inefficient, and causes staff to lose faith and leave.

If turnover is an issue in your company - your culture is contaminated. And if you’re the leader, you contributed to it. By contaminated, I’m referring to the negative behaviors that so easily, quietly and methodically infect a company’s culture.

  • It’s all that drama and drag that interferes with productivity and forward momentum.

  • It’s when the self-proclaimed backroom managers spew their toxic waste on everyone they come in contact with.

Simply put, a contaminated culture is one that lost its focus, sense of purpose, passion for the work and determination to grow due to compromise at the leadership level.

Just like every garden has weeds that are determined to spread, every business has contaminating behavior looking for opportunities to spread. The no-compromise leader is ever vigilant to catch it and pluck it before it spreads. To do so, leaders must be engaged and present.

Here’s my challenge to you: If your salon/spa is concerned about or currently dealing with employee turnover issues … the fix has more to do with your approach to leadership than it does the mindset of service providers. It’s how you lead, communicate, trust, empower and inspire those you lead.

Take this Culture Assessment Test to see where your salon/spa currently stands in relation to where you want to be. If the results show a major culture gap, consider doing a complimentary call with a Strategies Coach.



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