With the Christmas period upon us, this month already seems to be crazy busy for many stylists who are squeezing in as many clients as they can, working longer hours and taking fewer breaks. But while money coming in is great, your mental and physical health can take a battering.
Matrix artist ambassador, Ria Kulik, and Elena Lavagni, Co-Owner of Neville Hair and Beauty and L'Oréal Professionnel Partner, believes it’s important to recognise the symptoms of burnout before it’s too late – both in yourself and your team.
“I start to notice when the smallest of things are making a person really stressed, when you start clock watching to see how long it is until your next sleep, then sleeping but waking up just as exhausted, feeling like you have lost touch with friends and family, like you are on a relentless hamster wheel, wondering when you will enjoy your job again, finding that others are irritating you more,” Ria explains.
“Even though you should say no, you just say yes to everything, and throw yourself into more work to try and regain the spark for the job. I’ve been there before myself when you feel like your brain is completely full, it feels like it’s about to burst, and it can’t cope with any more questions from people, problem-solving or decisions to make other than the task at hand at that particular moment in time. That’s the point I can tell when someone needs a little reassuring and possibly a hug that things will be OK."
The Signs of Burnout
The first sign that a team member may be experiencing burnout, and struggling with the pressures of their workload, is lateness. If a team member who is usually conscientious and punctual starts arriving for work late and seeming flustered, there's a chance they are suffering some level of burnout, either physical, mental, or both.
Lack of Motivation
If you notice that usually enthusiastic members of your team are suddenly lacking in motivation, this can be another red flag in terms of burnout. Watch out for team members getting lazy in the way they communicate with clients, perhaps they have lost their usual sparkle. Keep an eye out for team members either taking longer than usual to complete an appointment or rushing their time with clients. Either scenario can suggest a loss of enthusiasm for their work, which can have a long-term effect on your business.
Loss of Focus
When a team member is suffering from burnout, their stress levels and anxiety can lead to their mind constantly overflowing with thoughts, leading to a lack of focus. Look out for team members who are normally on it making silly mistakes - getting clients' names wrong or forgetting important steps in the consultation, for example - or simply seeming distracted for no apparent reason.
How To Prevent Burnout
Make Health and Self-care a Top Priority
It's important to prioritise the mental and physical health of team members above making a profit. We need to be prepared to give our teams the rest they deserve even if this will mean more pressure on salon owners. You are the priority. If you care for yourself first, then you will be able to care for your clients better. If you think you are burnt out, then today is the day you put yourself first.
Set Professional Boundaries
Mainly the hours you work. Pick how many hours you are going to work and stick to them, you can’t be accommodating to everyone, and it will encourage clients to become more organised in the future which will help you feel organised in your day-to-day. Stay away from doing ‘favours’ by coming in early or staying late for people. Protect yourself and ask them to find another appointment that suits them.
Have an Open Door Policy
Team members need to know that it is fine to come to you with concerns about their health. Listening and communicating with the team is paramount. Make sure they know that your door is always open and that there will be no judgement if they come to you with issues concerning their physical or mental health. Looking after each other is what a real team is all about so seek help from other team members if you see someone in distress. It may be that support from a fellow team member will be antidote their issues.
Once you listen to a team member and take on board their concerns, there is nearly always a solution. Sometimes it can be as simple as verbally recognising the extra hard work they are putting in to ensure clients are kept happy during a busy period. In more serious cases, you may need to work out a way certain team members can have a little more free time, even if that means taking on more hands-on work yourself.
Turn That Phone Off
Another big one for people is being contacted by clients at any time of the day and night. With social media and email being a massive part of how clients contact you, only contact clients during your working hours. Or set aside time in a day to get back to those clients. A polite, automated message explaining this goes a long way; people understand and it takes a massive pressure off you.
Enjoy The Little Things in Life
Make sure you have booked some real downtime away from work. Whether it is seeing friends and family or going to your favourite spa for the day, put that phone in aeroplane mode and allow yourself to enjoy life.
Plan to Invest in Yourself and Your Skills
Taking a day away from the grind and educating yourself is a great way of boosting yourself up and is a great way to meet others in the same position. Everyone deserves to be happy and it's the salon owner or manager's job to ensure they have a happy and contented team however busy the salon gets. A happy team usually means happy clients, so it makes good business sense too!