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How can I keep up morale within my team post lockdown? | Phil Smith

June 01, 2021

As one of the most respected names in the hairdressing world, Phil Smith has built salon empires, launched multi-million selling haircare ranges and won countless awards for his business acumen. Here, he tackles your tricky business issues…

“I’m worried about staff motivation after so many months in lockdown. How can I keep up morale within my team while still making sure my salon gets back on its feet?”


“Managing your team is going to be one of the biggest challenges after re-opening your salon. Let’s face it, this year is going to be the second worst financial year in business we’ve ever faced (with 2020 being the most disastrous). But your team won’t necessarily be aware of the reality. They’ll see a busy salon and might expect that everything is back to normal. We know that’s not the case.

The first six or seven months after re-opening the salon doors is pure catch-up. The Pandemic created a financial crisis in our industry. And while things seem to be moving in a positive direction, we’re not out of the woods yet. My first piece of advice is to keep your team informed how hard this is going to be. No need to sugar coat it, I’d explain the severity of the situation and how lucky we are to still be in business. Many others haven’t been so fortunate.

You may find some of your team are reluctant to be back. I’d go so far as to say that some people have enjoyed some of the upsides of furlough, like more free time. Re-adjusting to a busy salon schedule might seem tough and energy levels could be flagging. As well as being crystal clear about how precarious the future of the business is, I’d recommend setting the record straight about salary increases. Bottom line, there won’t be any. Your business simply won’t be able to afford it for this year, at least.

Explain that any cash accumulated in the first busy weeks back will need to stretch out over a number of months. We don’t know yet how client’s habits will have changed due to lockdown and what impact that will have on your business. For instance, you may have colour clients that will never return and others will stretch out their appointments with a longer gap in between. Cashflow is going to be crucial during this uncertainty.

So, knowing that, how do you motivate a team in challenging times? Include them in everything that’s going on and educate them on business. Schedule regular catch ups where you all get together and discuss where you are with everything. No areas off limits. For instance, they may not know that during lockdown you didn’t qualify for furlough and therefore may not have earnt a penny. It’s important to share the reality. Be present and available for staff concerns. Some people will be struggling to adjust back to a new ‘normal’. Sit in the staff room, eat with them, chat with them, keep up a regular conversation and invite feedback.

Praise and support is, of course, important at any time, but now more so than ever. There’s always a reason your team chooses YOU. If you treat them well and make them feel valued, that goodwill should remain, even in tough times. If you see the value in them, they are far more likely to repay the appreciation. And you will need your team to get on board with the critical measures you must also implement to rebuild your business: rigorous stock control and an absolute clampdown on unnecessary wastage.

Every penny will count in this next few months. The more your team see that you’re all in it together, the more likely you’ll be able to maintain morale and – as a strong, united team – start to get back on your feet.   


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