In the high-touch spa, we tend to shy away from official-sounding terms like policy guidebooks, employee manual, and employee handbook. But having these useful tools in place can enable spa management to focus on more important issues, like growing the business.
Sure, when you started your spa business, you only had a handful of employees, and they worked alongside you to get the spa up and running. They all know “how it works” in your business, and you feel that you don’t need an employee manual, with a lot of rules and regulations.
Those are for big companies, right?
You don’t want your business to be perceived as “corporate.”
But the thing is, if you’re one of the hard-working lucky folks whose business is thriving, you’re probably doing a lot of things right, which means that the business will continue to grow. Leading to more clients, longer opening hours, and more staff to take care of the demand. And the next thing you know, your small group of compatriots has blossomed into a medium-sized group of people who are not necessarily on the same wavelength as you when it comes to how things get done.
Do you find yourself regularly answering questions such as these?
If so, then your business is ready for a little more structure. These and numerous other issues can be easily resolved by writing down how you want them handled.
As an owner/manager you are probably already stretched very thin; imagine what you could do with an extra 45 minutes per day in which you were not answering the same old questions over and over! In one of my client meetings with a spa owner, I observed how, during our meeting, the staff interrupted her to ask her how to handle an issue with professional inventory, how to respond to a phone call from a bridal party, and which of two possible locations a particular technician should use to perform a regularly scheduled service. While all of these issues seemed important to the people asking the questions, they could have been handled easily if there had been written policies in existence, without interrupting the owner multiple times.
As this situation illustrates, the purpose of the handbook is not to go corporate, but to provide a strong foundation which enables your staff to fully understand what is expected of them in the situations they are likely to face during the course of a day, and to remove yourself from the role of the “answer person.” Plus, the added benefit of having written policies is that it removes any suggestion of favoritism that can occur otherwise.
One way to make an employee handbook feel more user-friendly is not to call it a handbook; a policy guidebook sounds a little nicer. Whatever you call it, Staff Guidebooks are a legal document and should include numerous federal and state policies on how employees are treated and their rights. Helpful guidelines on employee handbooks can be found at the SBA website, the Society for Human Resource Management website (SHRM.org), and numerous private sites such as this one from the HR Group.
Basic legal requirements are all included in the employee handbooks that you can purchase off the shelf; however, those handbooks never include any policies or guidelines that are needed in a spa environment, such as the bullets above. Your best bet is to purchase a basic manual, and then add your own policies to it. Human resources law is quite complex, and you would certainly want to have your final draft reviewed by a local attorney before distribution. It is very helpful to design your handbook in a way that it can be regularly updated, which it will need no matter how careful you are. As the business grows, needs change. Have your staff members sign an acknowledgment page, stating that they understand they are responsible for keeping up to date on your particular guidelines, and then you can turn your focus to more important things, like sales & marketing.