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How to Incentivize Your Staff Without Breaking the Bank

By: Meredith Foster
Posted: May 1, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The daily routines of a service-providing business often make it easy for skin care professionals to slip into mediocre performance. The tendency to get caught up in immediate tasks can result in slipping retention rates, limited service upgrades and slumping product sales. This can leave skin care facility owners and managers asking: “How can we proactively keep our skin care professionals excited about the bigger picture? How can we keep team members engaged so that they meet and exceed goals? How can we stimulate motivation for high performance without having to increase commission structures or pay rates?”

Surprisingly enough, employees don’t necessarily need more money to feel excited and engaged at work. They often desire recognition from their leaders and among their peers; they want to know that their contributions matter in their workplace; and they like to have potential for growth at work. The following examples have been proven to incentivize workplace productivity without a dramatic hit to the ledger books. Review the existing systems within your business to make sure that they foster recognition, growth and education.

Do you currently have a way of recognizing your employees? Recognition begins with the relationship between manager and employee. Managers need to consistently recognize a job well done on a personal level. This can be as simple as a “thank you for staying late” or a “nice job” when an employee helps to overcome a challenge. Foster recognition throughout the entire workplace. Celebrate the accomplishments of individual employees with their peers. A mention in an internal e-mail or on the break room bulletin board boosts morale. Recognition also reaches beyond the internal structure of the business. Promote individual skin care professionals to the public on your website. Spotlight recent accomplishments or new skills learned by your staff in your monthly e-blast. Recognition is the best way to reinforce desired behaviors in those who demonstrate them and encourage others to integrate new behaviors into a routine that might otherwise be struggling.

Does your business offer employees room to grow? Are employees working in fixed positions, or do they have the opportunity to aspire to greater achievements? Have a comprehensive set of positions that include roles, such as lead esthetician or department head. Instituting various levels of service providers can give employees something to work toward. It offers them the sense that hard work will be recognized and rewarded. It also provides owners the opportunity to charge slightly more for services provided by experienced estheticians, thus allowing both the service provider and owner to share in higher earnings of employees who are well-developed and well-booked.

What is your continuing education strategy? How often are employees provided an opportunity to discover a new skill, learn about a new product, or sharpen existing knowledge and skills? Many vendors provide in-spa training at no additional cost to the business owner. These sessions can be held quarterly. Depending on the state and the type of license, skin care professionals may be required to complete continuing education (CE) to renew a license. Support your high performers or those who have worked in your business for a long time in fulfilling this requirement. Give a $100 CE credit to employees who consistently meet goals or to team members with two years of service or more. Consistent and quality education yields employees who are inspired and excited to provide high-quality service and product recommendations.

The cost of implementing new strategies that foster recognition, growth and education include time, commitment and consistency. The benefits of these cost-effective methods to incentivize employees extend beyond consistent performance in meeting and exceeding goals and maintaining a budget that operates in the black. These strategies also support a new culture in which employees hold a deeper commitment to the business, and its mission and values.

Meredith+FosterMeredith Foster is a consultant and licensed esthetician who has worked in medical, spa and retail, and is currently working as a training and development professional in the skin care industry.