What do spa therapists want?Oct 28, 2021
The spa industry has a skills shortage. This we know. Being a therapist is a tough gig that takes a lot of self-sacrifice at times and the past 18 months has been the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.
Business owners are understandably distraught. On a commercial level, therapists are needed otherwise there’s no business at all. In addition, many have invested much money and time in training individuals who have now left. On an emotional level, it’s impossible for the spa industry to deliver all the good that it’s so valued for without highly skilled individuals to deliver treatments and experiences.
So, the discussion has ensued - what do therapists want? How can we keep them in, interested in, and excited about working in the spa industry?
Business owners need to attract staff
There are so many things that the top spa business owners are now doing to create positive, supportive, appealing working environments for their therapists. As an industry that really is about caring, it’s inspiring to see so many leaders extending that value to their staff and really trying to stay on the pulse of what’s wanted.
The fantastic Nikki Spicer, Spa Director at Vita Skin Spa for example offers an exceptional employment package that includes things like:
- A private health insurance cash plan to help prevent injuries
- Perkbox subscriptions
- An extra day’s holiday on your birthday
- As well as the usual commission
She also invests heavily in training so that therapists feel secure in their knowledge at work.
We recently spoke to Steve Charlton, Founder of the The REAL. Leadership Consultancy, who offered thoughts and advice to business owners on staff retention, succession planning and a post-pandemic approach to the working environment.
Feeling safe and empowered at work
While much emphasis is put on perks, one of the most powerful things that seems to come through time and again when we speak to experts, successful business owners and to therapists themselves, is the importance of knowledge in the workplace.
In so many of the conversations we have where people feel disillusioned, frustrated, or insecure in their work, it stems from not having the tools available to feel safe and empowered in the job that they do. In our experience, this boils down to training.
Most therapists feel distressed or uncomfortable when they don’t feel that have the expertise to treat a vulnerable client, like someone with cancer. Having the knowledge to adapt treatments is game changing for them as well as the people they treat.
On a different note, earlier in the year we discussed cross infection control and managing risk. The therapists we speak to, almost universally want to help their clients, and are frightened of putting them in harm’s way. This of course was exacerbated by the pandemic but has been a historic concern when it comes to treating cancer patients and other vulnerable clients.
The pandemic also raised the issue of self-care and personal risk in the context of the Covid-19 virus. While this currently appears to be at manageable levels, the ongoing anxiety around it deserves due diligence in an environment based on touch and close proximity.
Training is the key
The issue of feeling safe and feeling that your clients are safe in your care can be resolved in one of two ways. Either you pack up shop or you develop the tools you need to minimise risk and feel secure in what you’re doing.
The first is a bit of a non-starter, not to mention an almighty shame. The second not only provides a better working environment but also gives therapists the opportunity to really excel at what they do and continue to fall in love with their practice, which is essential in a demanding job.
While there’s certainly no magic solution to retaining staff, and far be it from us to suggest we have it, we do know that specialist training is something that many therapists really value. For example, when an on-demand wellness app recently asked their network of freelance therapists if they would like to take up a training opportunity in oncology massage with Jennifer Young Training, it had the highest uptake of any training offering the app had provided to date.
While this is one example, almost all the responses we get from teams when asked if they want to develop their specialist skills are a resounding yes. Most therapists we come across are thirsty to develop the knowledge to treat people when they most need it and to feel confident in their ability to adapt therapies for personal needs.
Knowing the pressure that spa businesses have been under and that many have already invested in Jennifer Young training, only for their therapists to leave the industry, having used lockdown as a time for reflection, this month (October 2021) we have been offering our existing spa partners free certified oncology training to an unlimited number of therapists. If you would like to find out more as an existing partner, or you are interested in developing the skills of your team with training in oncology touch treatments, contact us any time for advice and information.
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