Top 10 Ways to Keep Great Employees

In our industry, we put a lot of emphasis on Client Retention. But what about Employee Retention? It’s the white elephant in the room that we rarely discuss but is many times the roadblock to a salon’s success.
Our industry is plagued by poor employee retention and many salon owners will tell you they live in fear of a staff walkout, which will steal their clientele. With Baby Boomers retiring from the work force in coming years, it is certain that we will experience a shortage of skilled professionals. Unless we begin offering careers and not just jobs, we can expect an even tougher battle to retain employees. Below, are 10 tips to improve employee retention.

1. Establish Clear Expectations: Satisfied employees know exactly what is expected of them every day at work. Meet periodically with employees to discuss goals and objectives as well as to discuss the employee’s performance in meeting those goals and objectives, which are set both by the manager and the employee. If one of your goals is to improve customer service, have each employee document what he or she did to improve customer service.  With expectations clearly documented and discussed, employees will feel less stress and greater security.

2. Improve Management Quality: When asked during Exit Interviews, many former employees will tell you that they leave managers or supervisors, and not companies. It begins when a manager may fail in communicating expectations. There might be a lack of clarity regarding earning potential or a lack of feedback on performance. Finally, many managers fail to establish a framework in which each employee feels he or she can be successful. It is important to provide training for managers and to provide tools to improve communication between management and the staff.

3. Employees Need the Ability to Speak Freely: Team members need the opportunity to voice opinions and concerns without the threat of retribution. An employee suggestion box, team brainstorming sessions, and other avenues of communication can foster morale and improve security.

4. Improve Talent and Skill Utilization:  Employees want to be motivated and challenged. They want to contribute to the business outside of their defined job roles. Next time you have a new project, look for help from your existing team. You may just discover, your receptionist has a knack for accounting or your esthetician is an excellent writer.

5. Create a Fair Environment: What is the perception of fairness and equitable treatment in your salon? Your team cannot exist if your staff has a star. It will breed jealousy and resentment. Build a staff where every person is a star and where every person is rewarded for their contributions fairly.

6. Provide Employees the Time, Tools, and Training to be Successful: Employees want an employer who will provide them the opportunities to be successful personally and professionally. Balance workloads so employees can gain experience outside their business area. For example, if an esthetician can never leave the facial room, she will not gain experience in managing others. Invest in your employees’ professional development and they will be invested in the success of your business.

7. Get to Know the Little People: Many unsatisfied employees complain that they feel like the big boss doesn’t know who they are. It is important for the owner of the salon, especially in large operations or chain salons, work to develop relationships with all employees. It is amazing what a 15 minute meeting between you and an employee can do to foster a positive environment and build team morale.

8. Never Threaten an Employee’s Job Security or Income: As a manager, it is important to never hint at looming lay-offs or pay cuts. Happy employees feel secure in their jobs. Worrying about a loss of income will erode team morale and not to mention an exodus of employees as they begin looking for greener pastures.

9. Employees need to feel Rewarded, Recognized, and Appreciated: Employees are motivated when they feel that the work they do adds value. Take the time to recognize and reward employees both privately and in front of peers.

10. Offer Opportunities for Professional Growth: Employees want to grow more than their books. They want to know that if they perform, they can be promoted and take on greater responsibilities.

We invest so much time and energy to make our clients happy. However, I believe to be truly successful, we need to invest just as many resources in keeping our employees happy.

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