Head of Leisure and Spa for the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, RBH, Dave Heap has been tackling the knots ailing the industry’s workforce at his portfolio, which includes 22 luxury QHotels spa properties.
And the spa stalwart of 25 years is sharing his tips on how to address the recruitment and retention crisis in the spa-verse by adopting a five-step holistic approach to nurturing team wellbeing: inspire, invest, nurture, listen and grow.
The spa industry as a whole – while continuing to grow - has had an underlying recruitment and retention issue for several years. And as spa experts we’ve had to take our own advice and work it out.
It may be an issue that’s here to stay but at RBH we’ve been making positive strides by treating both the symptoms, and the perceived causes, of the crisis at our QHotels properties.
To attract the best you need to be the best. Not only have we forged a strong brand partnership with leading product house ESPA, we have also fostered a culture where our best and brightest spa therapists can shine and set a benchmark for excellence.
Spa therapists are initially drawn to the quality of ESPA’s products and ethos of wellbeing. So, like us, strike a partnership you can take pride in.
Each year we also celebrate our leading therapists at the RBH Spa Awards, naming our Spa Therapist of the Year and Best Newcomer, among others titles. Not only is this important recognition for the efforts of our most talented therapists, but it is an opportunity for our spa community to come together and learn to emulate their success. Let your stars lead by example for the best results.
It’s important to invest time in your team and to invest in the correct processes from the outset. At RBH, we have developed an extensive induction course, including five days of essential ESPA training. Knowledge sharing is vital – we don’t just throw our recruits in at the deep end at our 153 treatment rooms across the UK.
But the real trick is to continue to invest in your team. Our initial training is reinforced with online learning modules and advanced specialist training.We want our team members to not only feel valued, but to be equipped to offer the best and most up-to-date advice to their customers.
And not only that, we incentivise with rewards for individual and team performances -from ESPA product rewards to discretionary bonuses.
In short, don’t cut corners – you reap what you sow.
It’s important to allow your therapists room to grow within your business. At RBH, we benefit from access to company-wide programmes such as our Management Foundation Degree in conjunction with University College Birmingham and internal programmes dedicated to career progression.
As well as retaining talent, you should also be continually scouting for burgeoning talent. If like us, your portfolio has huge college talent pools on their doorsteps, tap into them. We offer work experience and apprenticeships, as well as offering our expertise for guest lecture spots and fairs.
Don’t get complacent!
It’s all very well and good to practice tried and tested approaches, but don’t shut out new ideas. Listen to your team, take on valuable feedback and respond thoughtfully.
For example, acknowledge that scheduling someone’s first shift on a busy Saturday afternoon won’t give them the optimum first experience – and just don’t do it.
Likewise, we try to be considerate of our team’s wellbeing when developing our rotas. We prefer to allocate longer, more varied treatments, than to book a stack of back-to-back massages, for example. We want our therapists to be at their best for their sake and for their client’s. Variety is the spice of life so mix it up and keep it interesting.
Keep your upwards trajectory and make sure your team wants to stay for the ride. With an ever-growing portfolio at RBH, we can offer great opportunities at some of the finest spa hotels in the country. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars
The luxury QHotels spa portfolio is operated by the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, RBH.