Why a salon staff handbook is gold dust & how to get it read

Does managing your salon team seem daunting at times?

Yes? Then I’ve a suggestion.

Have you revisited your staff handbook recently?

Please hear me out. An employee handbook may seem like a boring business dinosaur, but it has the potential to be a magic wand when it comes to managing your team and culture.

If you’ve not bothered with a salon staff handbook before or have tried to implement one and failed, read on.

In this post I look at:

  • Why a salon employee handbook is an HR life-saver
  • How to make it into a page turner your team want to read
  • What it areas it should cover
  • Where to get a hair & beauty industry-specific handbook


#1. Why your salon staff handbook is an HR life-saver

Here are 3 reasons why your hair or beauty business needs a handbook:

It’s how we do it here…

Think of your staff handbook as an internal marketing tool to help you communication clearly, manage your team’s expectations and shape salon culture.

It’s a road-map setting out expected behaviour, attitudes and standards. The ultimate guide on “How we do things here” and the perfect place to cover potentially tricky topics such as:

Let new employees know what you expect of them

Whilst we all understand the importance of a new staff induction process running a busy salon often means it’s a process which gets rushed, or worse, overlooked.

A salon staff handbook is the cornerstone of a good induction procedure, ensuring new therapists and stylists receive the same consistent information about your salon ‘rules’, culture and expectations from day one.

A salon handbook can reduce employee disputes

Are many of the day-to-day disagreements and team grumbles caused by a misunderstanding of what is accepted practice within your salon, or what the Law permits?

A staff handbook lets you spell out both your salon procedures and the Law, reducing the room for any misunderstanding (deliberate or otherwise).

It also helps you stay the right side of the Law to have clear written guidance on areas such as:

  • Maternity & paternity leave
  • Your salon disciplinary process
  • Flexible working policy
  • Ending employment
  • Sick leave and sick pay
  • Holidays

Not only are written guidelines invaluable when you’re faced with argumentative employees, they can also help to keep you away from employment tribunals. Need I say more?


#2. But no-one reads our employee handbook…

If your team need some persuading to read your shiny new Handbook, take heart, you’re not alone.

A recent survey revealed:

11% of 18-29 year olds have not even opened their company handbook.

23% of 30-60 year olds and 36% of 18-29 year olds don’t even know where their Staff Handbook is anymore.


How to make your staff handbook a page turner

If your team yawn at the very mention of your employee handbook then you need to get creative.

I have used both of these ideas successfully with salon teams to get them turning those pages:

1. Bring your handbook to life

Of course employment is a serious topic.

But that doesn’t mean your handbook has to be tedious, lacklustre and dull.

Add some fun. Be creative. Bring your salon culture to life.

For starters why not call it something else?

That’s right. Give it a new upbeat name, look and feel.

Do try this at home…

Zappos is renowned for its customer service and inspirational team culture. Their employee handbook is written and designed like a comic book. Serious points are made, but in a more fun and impactful way.

The company also creates an annual yearbook, The Zappos Culture Book, to complement its employee handbook.

“The culture book is a collage of unedited submissions from employees within the Zappos Family sharing what the Zappos culture means to them. A new version is created each year and it reflects the true feelings, thoughts and opinions of the employees.”

I think this is a nifty idea which you could easily copy for your team to reinforce your employee handbook and salon culture.

It doesn’t have to be a book – you could create a vibrant collage on a pin-board in your team room. Run a team session where everyone brings a photo torn from a magazine, a quote that sums up your salon culture or a picture they have created. You get the idea.

2. Sell your employee benefits

Staff handbooks have a reputation for being negative. An endless list of don’ts.

This doesn’t make for enticing reading, especially if the print is small and dense. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Add plenty of “What’s in it for me” for your team. Make the first page or two full of information about employee benefits and perks.

I recently helped a beauty spa owner thrash out all the expectations and “rules” she had for her team. When we’d finished I suggested she return the compliment by using the handbook to tell her staff what they could expect from her.

Promote your perks. Make it something your team want to read.


#3. What my salon staff handbook should cover?

I recommend an excellent hair and beauty industry-specific handbook later in this blog, so you may just want to skip to that.

If you’re using your lawyer or employment consultant to draw up a salon handbook for you then just ensure they are familiar with our industry. You don’t want a staff handbook based on a template for an office worker sitting at a desk all day. So think through the various scenarios before going to meet your lawyer.

What areas to include in your salon staff handbook

Here’s my checklist of some of the areas and expectations you may want to cover (it’s by no means exhaustive and do please take legal advice).

  • Induction
  • Pay and commission
  • Salon benefits and perks
  • Hours of working and attendance
  • Performance review and appraisal
  • Expenses
  • Deductions
  • Holiday entitlement including public holidays
  • Salon dress code
  • Sick leave and sick pay
  • Disciplinary procedure
  • Grievance (complaints) procedure
  • Flexible working policy
  • Confidentiality
  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Smoking policy
  • Employment outside of your salon
  • Health and safety including driving
  • Equal opportunities policy
  • Bullying, harassment and stress
  • Internet and email
  • Use of mobile phones
  • Use of social media networks
  • Maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave
  • Pensions (especially with the new regulations coming into force)
  • Retirement and ending your employment
  • Changes to your terms of employment


Review your salon or spa handbook annually

Your hair or beauty business changes and evolves, as does the Law, so diarise a review of your staff handbook once a year.

And don’t forget to notify your team of any changes.


#4. Where to get a UK hair and beauty industry staff handbook

Membership of The National Hairdressers’ Federation (NHF) gives you free access to the Federation’s staff handbook written especially for hair & beauty salons and spas.

It’s clear, very comprehensive and written by their legal experts. It doesn’t come much better than that. To learn more about the NHF staff handbook visit the employment section of their website

This practical explanation from Hilary Hall, CEO of the NHF, sums it up perfectly for me:

“Any salon owner will tell you that managing their team is the hardest part of running their business! It’s so rewarding when things go well, but it can go horribly wrong when team members aren’t meeting the standards of behaviour that you expect in your salon. But unless you have those standards written down, how are team members going to know what you expect from them?

“That’s where a good staff handbook comes in – salon policies on topics such as holidays, hours of work, sick leave and sick pay, dress code, maternity leave, salon search procedures etc are all written down in black and white so no-one can say they didn’t know about them. When queries arise, salon owners and employees have the handbook to fall back on. And when things go wrong (and they will!), the handbook also includes the disciplinary procedures to follow when the policies set out in the staff handbook have not been observed.”


Good foundations make your life easier

If managing your salon or spa team seems daunting at times try going back to basics. Setting out clearly what you expect from them, and they can expect from you, will set you off on the right path.


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