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Industry • Best Practice

Welcome Aboard! How to Onboard Your Beauty Biz Staff to Set Them Up for Success

Technology and tact can help your new hires hit the ground running

Starting a new job can feel like the first day of school. When you bring on a new hire, you have to make them feel like they have a seat at the cool kids’ table if you want their work to be top-notch (or top knot). To ensure they jive enough to strive, your onboarding process must uncover their professional goals and personal needs, treat them like a valued member (even though they just got there), and above all, not be too overwhelming. Here’s how to use technology and empathy to ensure that your onboarding is less “touch-and-go” and more “welcome home.”  

Why onboarding matters

Onboarding is a crucial stage for a new hire, as it helps set short-term and long-term goals while improving the odds of retaining the employee. Small businesses pay significantly more to train new employees than larger companies, so upping your retention game is basically an investment. Your primary goal is to use the opportunity to get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a quick checklist of what onboarding should accomplish:

  • Familiarize the new hire with tools and resources that they’ll use daily

  • Ensure the new hire understands the expectations of their role

  • Understand the new hire’s career expectations

  • Help the new hire assimilate with the team and work culture

Let’s take a deeper look at how you check each item off the list and what to avoid along the way. 

Use technology to ease the process

Using onboarding software can help you or an HR rep ensure that both the business and the new hire have the information they need for a smooth transition. Remember that you’ll need a lot of the new hire’s information before they can get going, from basic stuff like addresses and emergency contacts to bank account information. HR onboarding software can help manage all of those details.

Once the basics are out of the way, guide your employees through whatever POS and booking systems you use. Think about the difficulties past employees have had and use that information to shape what — and how — you teach. Having an all-inclusive platform to handle booking, ordering, and the POS can be especially helpful here, as it's easier to pick up on one app’s feature suite than it is to learn several applications. 

Give them a welcome gift

Everybody loves free stuff. Welcome swag? Can’t get enough of it. When you onboard a new employee, consider giving them a small gift. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but if your salon has a uniform, like a branded shirt, you can include it along with samples of popular products.

There are a few major benefits of the strategy. First, you make a good impression on your new hire, who will feel welcome on their first day. Second, providing samples builds a new hire’s knowledge of your products. Today, 92% of people say they trust earned media — like recommendations from friends — above other types of messaging. If your new hires can give recommendations based on first-hand experience, you’ll likely see your sales increase.

Connect with the team

Maintaining a positive culture is an important part of running a salon. If your employees have as good of a rapport with each other as they do with clients, you shouldn’t see friction pop up often. No one wants to feel awkward tension during a haircut — it’s too vulnerable of a time for unease. Take time to introduce new hires to veterans during the onboarding process, and you’ll make bush league beauticians seem like they’ve always been in your salon.

Don’t expect everyone to become besties overnight, but try to find a few common touchpoints for everyone to bond. Play get-to-know-you games with fun questions. Who was their celebrity crush going up? What was their most regrettable hairstyle? (Make sure they know the side ponytail was cute, even if they regret it.) If you ask the right questions, your stylists might even use the same prompts to bond with customers.

Set expectations

How will an employee know if they’ve been doing an absolutely bang-up job or have room for improvement? Setting proper expectations as early as possible. You should clearly outline what a task looks like when it’s done well, the sort of attitude and effort you want employees to bring to the table, and anything else you expect. Regularly offering feedback during the training process is a great way to outline expectations in no unclear terms. Set up a 30-60-90-day plan that will break their progress into stages, and review their progress at each milestone.

New hires need a platform to outline their expectations, too. As their employer, it’s your responsibility to understand what they’re looking for long term. Assisting them with their needs will help ensure that you have a long, fruitful relationship with each other. Leave time during your 1-on-1s and extemporaneous feedback sessions to let your employee speak about what they need and what they’re getting.

What not to do 

So, you’ve got your new hire and it’s going great. They’re just as stunning as they were during the interviews and — oh no, they’ve just fled the salon. If you’re going to lose a new employee, there’s a decent chance it will happen in the first 45 days, which is a sizeable time investment to throw away. Here are some of the mistakes people make that lead to turnover:

  • Information dumping. Everyone wants their new hire to hit the ground running, but onboarding is a process. Dumping information on them too quickly will keep them from retaining it, which sets them up for failure.

  • Skipping training. On the flip side, too little training is equally frustrating. It’s natural for new hires to have questions weeks — and even months — into their new job, but they should grasp the fundamentals after 3-5 days in most salon scenarios. The nitty gritty, like in-depth questions about specific products, will come with time, but they should understand the POS system ASAP.

  • Neglecting connections. You want to make sure that your new hire is building relationships with their coworkers. A strong work culture is one of the best ways to ensure that you retain satisfied employees — studies have said so.

Above all, remember that your new hires are nervous when they’re starting. There’s going to be a lot to learn and new people to impress, and that’s nerve-racking. But as long as you level with them as a human, make them feel welcome, and understand their needs, your odds of turning them into an all-star team player improve significantly.

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