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How to Spot the Warning Signs of Salon & Spa Employee Turnover

We all know that employees come and go.

Every salon/spa has employee turnover and attrition.

When it happens, here's what not to do: Don't get stuck in "employees just don't stay with salon/spas very long anymore" thinking.

That type of thinking is self-defeating.

"They're just going to leave" thinking can cause you to regard employees more as commodities than the precious resources they are. Today's salon/spa leaders should be fighting to change that thinking - not feeding it.

Salon/spa leaders cannot justify unacceptable employee turnover as a cost of doing business. That's the easy way - the compromise way.

If an employee quits your salon/spa for any reason other than...

  • Personal issues

  • Relocation

  • Health

  • Or for a career opportunity that doesn't exist in your company

... your staff retention systems need work.

There is no better way to drive this point home than this Neilism: "Employees quit leaders, not companies."

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 your approach to leadership and staff development pushed that perfect employee 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.

Systems alone cannot overcome the turnover problems and related costs that a compromising leader creates.

It’s not uncommon to find myself coaching salon/spa leaders that are the source of their staff retention problems. Most are unaware that they could be the problem ... or are simply unwilling to see themselves as the root cause. I've lost count of how many times employees have asked me, “Is there any way we can fire the boss?”

  • Yes, it’s disturbingly sad when employees get it and their leaders do not. In almost every case, these employees believe in the salon/spa and its vision ... but they quit out of utter frustration. They are clearly the right hires that got stuck working for a compromising leader.

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 10 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 might naturally occur in a salon/spa 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 behavior becomes really unacceptable: When behaviors such as lateness, absenteeism, negative attitude, ignoring rules/policies and productivity issues, noticeably increase, it’s an indicator that one or more employees are disgruntled and need attention.

    • Abrupt and negative behavior changes are a sure sign that problems and frustrations exist and will likely further deteriorate.

    • It’s time for no-compromise leadership to open up the lines of communication to find out what’s going on and what needs to be done to fix it.

    • Ignoring negative behavior shifts is a compromise.

  • Departure bus is filling up: When the salon/spa work environment gets stressful and its culture gets funky ... it’s an indicator that one or more employees are far from content. When one or two employees quit or resign ... then a few more follow ... your leadership warning indictor light should be flashing bright red.

    • When clusters of employees begin leaving or walking out, it’s a massive red flag that demands immediate attention and open dialog with employees.

    • They need to vent and you and your leadership team members 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.

  • Dysfunction on your leadership team: When employees are ratcheting up their complaints about a member of your leadership team, it is an indicator that employees are having serious issues with one of your direct reports. Performance reports can also indicate that something isn’t right with your team’s overall performance such as repeatedly missing goals that were attainable, a drop in pre-book rate or retail sales taking a dive.

    • Interview some of the employees to gain their insights.

    • Have that fierce conversation with that leader to discuss his or her challenges.

    • Sometimes you can “save” a manager by helping that individual identify and address his/her leadership weaknesses - or by reassignment to a role that’s a better fit.

    • Depending on the severity of the issue, you may need to let a leadership team member go before problems get out of hand and wreck the culture you worked so hard to create.

    • FACT: There are times when employees will not voice their concerns about a leader because the owner/leader is closed to such open dialog. Other times, there’s fear of reprisal from that manager or the company for speaking up. It all leads to turnover and it’s all driven by compromise at the owner/leadership level.

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. All the time, effort and resources devoted to staff retention unite to drive extraordinary performance and results. Great staff retention drives productivity by minimizing disturbances in your salon/spa team. That, in turn, drives profitability by improving efficiency while minimizing the costs associated with employee turnover.

Here’s my challenge to you: Take a no-compromise leadership look behind your salon/spa’s curtain to see if any of the potential turnover indicators listed above exist in your company. Just like on the television show, Undercover Boss, you will discover that employee problems and frustrations have been festering too long. Most often, the fixes you need to make are revealed through listening to, and caring about, what your employees have to say.

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