Managing Different Generations of Spa and Salon Employees

Managing Different Generations of Spa and Salon Employees


Today’s spa, wellness, or beauty workplace can include up to 5 generations. So how can we use this generational diversity to create a positive, productive environment?  We will look at the three most common age ranges within our service industry and their generalized, but common characteristics as outlined by Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media:

Baby Boomers (born roughly between 1946-1964)

Boomers are considered to be competitive workaholics. They are thought to be optimistic, results-oriented, but they also question authority.

Generation X (born roughly between 1965-1980)

They are said to be independent self-starters. They value work-life balance the most.  Gen X’ers can be loyal but have an entrepreneur spirit and are not as attached to their employers.

Generation Y/ Millennials (born roughly between 1981-2000)

They are non-conformists and expect flexible hours and work-life balance. Millenials can be very demanding but are collaborative, open-minded, and socially conscious.


Giving all employees a voice

It is important to know the way each staff member prefers to communicate. Traditionally, I would never say this but it is essential for managers to change rather than trying to change your staff.

1.)Apply different communication methods

Boomers prefer to meet in person or talk over the phone while Gen X and Millennials like to text, email, or instant message.  

2.)Keep employees engaged

Consider task forces or presence on social media outlets. Put together a community service based team that gathers old, damaged spa linen to donate to a local animal shelter.

3.)A true open door policy

Be transparent to your staff and schedule one-on-one meetings. This is a great time to provide honest feedback and allow staff to speak openly within a protected environment.

4.)Recognize personal needs

Remember that your multi-generational staff members are at different stages in life and require different scheduling flexibility, but stay fair and consistent. Boomers will take a pay cut to reduce hours, Gen X prefers to make up lost time, and Millennials want time to pursue more educational opportunities. 

Mentoring & Recognition

It is important to know how people want to be coached and recognized.  

1.)Boomers may seek status

2.)Gen X like simple gestures such as an email to say thank you or great job.

3.)Millennials crave validation in the form of increased responsibilities and training opportunities.   

Encourage cross-generational interaction with mentoring programs. For example, team up younger staff with more mature experienced employees for new hire orientation.  Apply a reverse mentoring program; one where seasoned employees discuss new, fresh ideas with younger staff members such as a retail social media contest or incorporating a new technique into a standard service. 

Changing with the times, for good!

 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics during a 2013 census of employed persons by industry and age; Millennials make up an estimated 67% of the personal care service industry. With more Millennials entering the workforce, it is necessary to look at creative ways to recruit and manage staff. 

Honor each person’s contribution by posting positive comment cards in the break room to appease boomers public recognition, ask a Millennial to put together content for a face book or twitter post on this month’s must have product! Get a Gen X more involved by asking them for ideas on a new service offering or promotion.  Pulling together for a common goal will help overcome generational differences and build a stronger team. 




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