Beth Nilssen
January 4, 2022 / Leadership

Find out what your employees want—what they REALLY want

An earlier post explored the key to recruiting and retaining staff. Basically: Find out what they want and then try to give it to them! This blog explores what that might look like, especially to Gen Z and millennials who are a key demographic in the hair and beauty industry

Two years. It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world economy, not to mention so many lives, and, in its wake, created a historically turbulent labor market. (How was Great Clips affected? Read this article for background on how the company went from surviving to thriving.)

The pandemic also sped up personal reassessments of what we value in our work lives. This was especially true for younger workers—millennials and Gen Zs (generally, those under age forty). Many post-COVID employee surveys reveal increased desire among workers for more autonomy in their careers, more focus by their employers on the well-being of their employees, and more flexibility in their professional environments.

The most successful Great Clips franchisees value these articulated desires. Of course, owners of walk-in hair salons are limited in how they can respond to these preferences, especially the flexibility to work remotely or virtually. Clearly, getting a professional hair cut isn’t possible on Zoom! 

But that doesn’t mean these hair salon franchisees don’t appreciate that stylists—just like millions of workers across the country—want to work for someone who empowers them to deliver a great experience to customers, respects their desire for work-life balance, and offers opportunities to grow in their careers. 

This was true before COVID-19 and is even more true after COVID-19, according to surveys on what prospective and current employees look for in an employer. So, according to these surveys, what do workers want? Here’s a smattering of what I’ve found, with a few examples of what that looks in the business operations of a few Great Clips salon franchise businesses:

Employees want more work/life balance. When employers helped their employees manage their personal lives through scheduling, resources, and support, there was a 21% increase in the number of high-performing workers (Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey). Many Great Clips franchisees do this by being transparent and collaborative in scheduling and offering professional and personal development resources such as dressing for success and managing finances. 

Employees want both flexibility and consistency in their schedules. Stylists cannot expect to work from home, and it’s vital for franchisees to fully staff salons during their busiest times. Fortunately, using tools and resources from Great Clips, Inc., salon owners can project their staffing needs almost to the hour. Managers can schedule stylists according to salon needs and stylist preferences. And stylists can see their schedules in advance. Win, win, win.

Employees want to work for ethical organizations. They expect a caring workplace culture and extending that care to the community. I’m always impressed with how much Great Clips salon owners and staffs invest their time and enthusiasm in community-outreach programs, such as our Veterans Day promotion, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and Clips of Kindness. It’s a way for everyone in the Great Clips family to live their own values by representing their salon and community.

Younger generations expect to be coached and developed, not just “bossed,” and they want opportunities to progress in their careers. This Great Clips franchisee has learned how to help employees build a career, not just a job.

I find it interesting that “more money” isn’t always on the list of what these surveyed workers said they want. Perhaps it goes without saying, they appreciate being acknowledged with professional growth opportunities and financial incentives and rewards. I’ll leave you with this tip from John Varga, a Great Clips franchisee in the Southwest U.S., who makes a point to let each of his stylists know exactly how important they are:

“For the holidays, I personally hand-deliver to each stylist a card stuffed with cash, and I say ‘Thank you.’ There are lots of ways to make employees feel good, but shaking their hand, saying thank you, and giving them a financial bonus makes them feel great. That doesn’t mean we don’t focus on the numbers. Our priority is haircuts. That’s what customers come to us for. So we deliver a great experience, and then I let the stylists know they’ve made a difference.”

I think the power of John’s generosity wouldn’t be as strong if he just gave each employee money. The fact that it comes with a personal handshake and expression of thanks strengthens the message: You matter.

Gallup has identified five elements of wellbeing: career, social, financial, community and physical. Each element influences the others, and thriving in all of them is necessary for a life well-lived.

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Beth Nilssen 
Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]

As Director of Franchisee Development for Great Clips, my job is to help prospective franchisees figure out if investing in a salon franchise is a good match. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call!

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on January 4, 2022
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