The topic of employee wellness is a broad one, encompassing everything from staff satisfaction in their roles to healthy work environments. According to a 2015 Mercer report on employee well-being, well-being is defined as: “A term that captures the essence of what drives success both inside and outside the workplace. Encompassing physical, emotional and financial health, it includes wellness and health management but is not limited to them.”
In today’s world, it’s highly likely that employee wellness was impacted and even changed dramatically by the 2020 pandemic. Here, we’ll examine the effects of the past year on spa professionals’ well-being, and explore how management can better support their teams with these issues in mind.
An article in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management (January 2021) examined the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ work stress, well-being and mental health. In it, the authors identified that employees working in service industries may experience “psychological burdens and extreme stress due to the nature of contact that occurs in the process of serving customers,” and that this is especially true in times when epidemics occur.
Negative external factors can manifest themselves specifically as various forms of stress, and these can be identified as four main anxieties that affect our teams. Along with the possibility of being infected themselves, spa and salon staff can suffer from the anxiety that they can spread infection to their families and friends. Arguably the main fear is about hours and pay, with stress on both sides of that coin. On one side, there are fears about reduction or loss of work hours, reduced pay and unpaid leave; and on the other side, some employees are feeling the pressure of overwork and unstable schedules due to other colleagues leaving the business. There’s also the stigma that is carried from the uncomfortable social gaze and personal safety questions that arise from the fact that this is a business where direct physical contact with customers occurs.
These incredible, unprecedented work stresses can translate into negative attitudes and behaviors of employees and, in turn, can also have a negative impact on the company. A 2018 McKinsey study identified that: “A chaotic workplace environment of frequent, uncontrollable events adversely affects people’s motivation, their cognition and learning, and their emotional state.” In an industry that’s all about taking care of our clients, who is going to take care of our employees? The answer is incredibly simple.
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Victoria Nickle, executive director of the signature retreat program at the California Health & Longevity Institute, has more than 20 years of experience operating health and wellness facilities for hotels, resorts and medical groups. She opened the first Bliss Spa in London and managed 17 spas for Steiner Leisure before joining Four Seasons Spas in 2011.