A shortage of qualified staff is one of the biggest challenges of the spa and wellness industry today. In an effort to improve employee satisfaction, last fall we at Complexions Day Spa for Beauty & Wellness, a small business day spa, salon, and med spa with locations in Albany and Saratoga Springs, New York, sent out a company wide employee survey to develop a better understanding about what qualities of our employees' jobs increase their job satisfaction.
A large percentage of Complexions Dat Spa for Beauty & Wellness employees are millennials, and their desires differ from those of an older population. The most important thing we found was having job flexibility. They wanted personal time off and flexibility as to when they could use it. In addition to paid vacation, we gave them an additional 20 hours of unpaid, personal time to use over the course of the year. We explained it to them as if they had a cookie jar and those twenty hours were cookies for them to enjoy. In order for them to take the time, or the cookie, they needed to find another employee to cover for them. When the other employee covered for them, and it was outside their normal work schedule, (they picked up a shift) they could earn additional hours to use (have more cookies in their jar).
The premise actually worked out very well. We have employees volunteering to cover shifts because they want to accumulate more time. It has also helped to encourage greater team work; they are helping each other cover shifts so they can earn more time and have more cookies in their jar. When the hours are gone, they can’t take any additional time until they have more cookies in their jar. This has worked really well across all positions, ranging from front desk management to spa attendants and beyond. The result is less turnover and happier employees.
We find this flexibility to be the most important thing millennial employees look for. In addition, the longer an employee works for us, the more paid vacation time they earn. We also offer health insurance benefits as well as a retirement plan with an employer contribution, continuing education dollars, and a structured compensation program with bonuses based on their average ticket and key performance indicators such as pre bookings, client retention, and retail sales.
Most importantly, the survey showed that not all employees are looking for the same benefits, so it’s a good idea to customize benefits when possible.