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Six Steps to Manage Salon/Spa Employee Reopening Stress


During the mandated business closure, many owners worked extra hard at maintaining contact with employees. Weekly Zoom meetings quickly became the new norm.

During the stay at home period, maintaining your salon/spa culture and connectedness became more essential than ever. For owners and employees, just being able to see and interact with team members provided some semblance of normalcy.

Now that all but a few areas have reopened, the quest to find that “new normal” may appear well underway, but with the extreme busyness that comes with reopening, the need for connecting with employees has never been greater.

FACT 1: After months of being closed and reopening with social distancing, sanitizing protocols, reduced capacity, and wearing PPE, owners and employees are working under extreme pressure to accommodate high client demand for services.

FACT 2: When working under extreme pressure, internal communication systems are prone to breakdown — especially taking the time for one-on-one’s with employees.

Here are some of the primary reasons why one-on-one’s are especially critical at this time:

  • Employees can be very concerned for the possible exposure to COVID-19 and potential to bring the virus into their homes.

  • COVID-19 has some employees questioning if they even want to work in this industry.

  • The need to wear face masks and PPE can be uncomfortable and stressful.

  • It’s already being reported that some clients can be overly demanding, refuse to wear face masks and/or comply with required safety protocols. Some clients have been outright rude and disrespectful to service providers.

When one or more employees are under stress, it rarely stays contained. Stress is like a pressure cooker. If the pressure can’t be relieved, it continues to build up until it blows up.

Stress needs an outlet, and there is no better an outlet than investing the time to do one-on-ones with each employee.

Here are six No-Compromise Leadership strategies to ensure that one-on-one’s get done and get done right in the early weeks and months after reopening:

  1. It’s the heart of leadership: When a leader shows appreciation to an employee, that employee feels valued. When a leader demonstrates the highest level of caring for the wellbeing of an employee, that employee feels safe, listened to, and understood. KEY: In these unprecedented times, salon/spa employees are stepping up to support the company they work for, their teammates, their families, and the clients they service. This is the time for all leaders to show their hearts and how much they care for their people. Make every one-on-one be about caring.

  2. Get them on the schedule: There is just too much going to just say that you’re going to do one-on-ones. KEY: Schedule out weekly one-on-ones for the next three months for each and every employee. If you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of one-on-one’s,” it definitely is not. The intent of these one-on-one’s is to ensure the wellbeing of each and every employee. It’s an opportunity to release the pressure valve. It’s a leadership investment of time in your people. These one-on-ones are that important.

  3. Fifteen minutes: Don’t over complicate these one-on-ones. KEY: Fifteen minutes is plenty of time to ask, “How are you doing?” It’s plenty of time to listen. It’s plenty of time for an employee to vent or let you know that he or she is doing fine. If you see that the employee is having challenges and is overstressed, set a time at the end of the day or first thing the next morning to talk through the challenges.

  4. De-stress — don’t add stress: Do not bring paperwork or reports to these one-on-ones. Do not bring an agenda. These are NOT performance reviews, reprimands, or pay discussions. These are informal check-ins on each employee’s wellbeing. KEY: Every one-on-one should begin with, “Tell me how you’re doing?” If the response you get is, “Fine,” Ask more specific questions such as their comfort level wearing face masks, PPE, sanitizing protocols, and dealing with client concerns. Ask how their family is doing. Ask, “What can we do better to support you?” Remember, your role is to listen and identify any challenges you can help an employee through.

  5. Etched in stone: Regard every scheduled one-on-one as a commitment to that employee that cannot be broken or compromised. KEY: Trust is about following through. Trust is about doing what you said you were going to do. Last minute cancelling, rescheduling, showing up late, or, even worse, no-showing to a one-on-one breaks trust. It is the leader’s self-inflicted integrity and cultural damage. Got it?

  6. Be there for them: These one-on-ones are about your employees, how they’re doing, and how they’re feeling. KEY: It is your responsibility to show up as a caring leader that is prepared to listen to whatever your employees wish to share. Maybe they just need to vent. Maybe they need some help or guidance. Maybe they have valid concerns that you need address. This is the work of leadership.

Here’s my challenge to you: Nothing about the next few months is even close to “business as usual.” This pandemic is far from over with many unknowns still lurking out there.

From the very beginning of this crisis, the rule for leaders is to control what you can control. One of the most effective things you can do is address the wellbeing of your employees with scheduled weekly one-on-one’s.

One-on-one’s are a simple investment of time to ensure that your culture remains as rock-solid as possible.


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