13 Salon Staff Motivation & Team Building Ideas

Salon staff turnover is a major issue for many salon owners.

But even worse, having staff in the salon that is not motivated to do a good job also impacts the rest of your team negatively. And this can get you into a client-loosing negative spiral. 

Staff is more important to salon owners than to entrepreneurs in any other industry. 50% of all costs incurred by a salon is the staff. This is massive compared to the average of other industries at 33%. 

It’s clear that no salon manager can afford not to be obsessed with retaining salon staff and keeping them engaged and motivated to do a good job.

Luckily this is not difficult when you know what to do.

In this article, I’m going to take you through the proven salon staff motivation drivers that will help you establish your staff motivation plan for the year ahead.

Let’s start with an overview.

How to Motivate Salon Staff

There are 13 proven and practical ways to motivate your salon staff. Before we go into how you can practically implement them, let’s start with an overview of what they are:

  1. Create, and Live by, the Culture You Want in Your Salon
  2. Understand the Different Personalities in Your Salon and What Makes Them Tick
  3. Give Your Salon Staff Ownership and Involve Them in Decisions
  4. Adapt Your Management Method to the Level of Your Salon Employee 
  5. Schedule Regular One-to-One Conversations
  6. Develop a Salon Commission Model that Rewards the Right Type of Behaviors and Activities
  7. Gamify Friendly Salon Competitions
  8. Invest in the Training and Development of Your Salon Employees
  9. Offer a Salon Career Path
  10. Turn Your Salon into an Inspiring Work Environment 
  11. Take Your Team Offsite
  12. Show Gratitude, Celebrate Success, and Lift Your Salon Staff
  13. Run an Employee Survey and Track Your Progress

What Motivates Salon Employees?

Before we go into each strategy that will help you improve salon staff motivation. Let’s also look at an overview of what factors impact staff motivation. 

How to motivate salon employees

Overview of what motivates employees to go the extra mile (source Psychology Today).

1. Create and Live the Culture You Want in Your Salon

Before you do anything else to improve the motivation of your salon staff, you should make sure you have a clear and well-defined culture in your salon.

And by that, I don’t mean a few words on a wall or website, but a culture that you can observe in the day-to-day behavior of your staff.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Peter Drucker

Even if you haven’t done anything about the culture in your salon, you have one. Questions are just if it is the type of culture you want.

At the center of a salon’s culture are the salon’s mission, values, beliefs, and behaviors. To create a good spirit and motivation in your team it’s important that all employees understand and embrace all these components.

When creating and defining your salon’s mission and shared values, it is a good idea to involve your staff in the process. This way you can together define what your culture should be which also makes it easier for the members of your team to embrace it.

Defining your salon’s culture can be a very nice and motivational team activity in itself. Take an afternoon out from the salon get the team together and discuss the values that are important to the individuals. As salon owners, you note down all the ideas put on the table.

You can then draft the final mission of where the salon is going and summarize the shared values of people working in the salon.

Your values and mission statement will create unity and direction for your team so that you’re all going in the same direction. As you recruit new members, make sure you consider their fit with your new culture.

2. Understand the Different Personalities in Your Salon and What Makes Them Tick

We’re all different.

And to motivate the members of your team, you need to understand what they like and what they don’t.

Sounds obvious, right?

But it can take time before you really understand what makes another person tick.

The color framework outlined by Thomas Erikson in his book Surrounded by Idiots is a great tool that helps you analyze other people fast. I just love this framework and use it all the time – when interviewing new staff but also with clients – or in fact in all aspects of life. It’s always a good thing to be able to easily understand who you have in front of you 🙂

Surrounded by idiots - Learn the different personalities in your salon

Learn about the different personalities in your salon. Get your copy of Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson from Amazon now.

3. Give Your Salon Staff Ownership and Involve Them in Decisions 

Micromanagement is the death of motivation.

I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where someone’s telling you to do this, then that, etc. It turns us into machines and we disconnect our own brains when this happens. 

As a salon owner, it can be tempting and easy to fall into the trap of micromanaging your staff. After all, you know how you want things right?

But you need to avoid this.

It takes up too much of your time and kills employee motivation. In fact, if you’ve ever had a thought similar to “why can she not think for herself? Is she stupid? It’s obvious that this needs to be done..”, it’s quite possible that this is a consequence of micromanagement and that the employee has switched off her own thoughts. 

Instead, give your staff room to think for themselves. Involve them in decisions. You’ll see how they grow, get more motivated, and you’ll save more of your time.

4. Adapt Your Management Methods to the Level of Your Salon Employee

I just talked about the importance of giving your employees room to think and decide for themselves. This is true, but…

.. the level of autonomy you should give your staff will vary depending on where in their development journey they are. If the person has just started working for you and knows very little about how things work, it can be very de-motivating to be given a task that the person is not sure how to complete. But this will change over time.

Thus, you should not only understand the personality of each salon employee, but you also need to know how where they are on their capability journey.

If they’re junior in their role, you should adopt a more directive leadership that makes it clear what to do. As they progress you can move to a coach approach where you guide them but let them make decisions for themselves. Finally, as they gain experience you should just support them but delegate full responsibility to them. 

This is the art of highly effective leadership that motivates teams and maximize outcomes.

5. Schedule Regular One-to-One Conversations 

You cannot be efficient with people.

But you can be effective.

These two concepts sometimes get mixed up and it leads to poor leadership and an unmotivated team. You don’t resolve conflicts, coach people to grow, and make people feel motivated to work for you with speed. You need to invest time in the relationship with each individual that you manage in the salon.

A great way of doing this is to install a regular one-on-one meeting. This is regular a time that you set aside with each member that reports to you in your salon or salon organization. It can be a 30-minute coffee per week, one hour every two weeks, or whatever fits the need of the individual.

This is a time when you listen to the concerns of your team member. It’s also an opportunity to coach your employee on the challenges they face. You can use the time to ensure your salon staff is onboard on the direction and culture of your salon. Try also to get a bit personal and understand what’s going on with the employee in your salon (to the extent they are willing to share). 

You’ll find that connecting regularly is a time investment that will save time in the long run. You’ll be able to quickly catch an employee retention issue and better be able to adapt your management style to the individual. It will also make your staff feel valued which will motivate them to do a better job. 

6. Develop a Salon Commission System That Rewards the Right Type of Behaviors & Activities 

You should focus on intrinsic motivation first.

This is why the majority of this article covers activities you can do to improve culture, make people feel valued, and create a space that is motivating to work in. However, we all know that money plays a role when it comes to motivation.

You should regularly benchmark the compensation and benefits you offer vs. another salon to ensure what you offer is competitive. Offering part of the compensation in commission is also a powerful way to drive the behavior you want. The best way to do this is to give commission on activities that the employee can directly influence and that are smaller, easy-to-complete tasks. 

For example, promoting a selling a certain type of service or retail. If you use good salon software, you should have a support commission setup. The salon software I use for this is called Mangomint and it allows you to configure a very flexible commission setup – down to individual employees to specific service categories.

It’s an awesome tool that helps you manage your staff overall.

The image below shows you how to start configuring a service commission in Mangomint.

Mangomint screenshot of  service commission

7. Gamify Friendly Salon Competitions

So you offer competitive wages and give commissions to incentivize desired behaviors.

That’s awesome.

But there’s more you can do…

In fact, research shows that peer motivation is the strongest form of employee motivation (Psychology Today). How we look in front of other colleagues in the salon is the most important motivation factor.

To tap into this you can run friendly competitions among your staff members. I want to stress “friendly” here as you want to strike the right balance between healthy peer competition without creating an “elbows out”, individualistic, culture.  

Run focused competitions that drive specific, strategic activities. Activities could for example be focused on driving client basket size. That is to make the competition around the average number of products sold per client. It can also be on attracting new clients to the salon. Or even social media sharing.

The activity you build your competition on should tackle the challenge you have in the business right now.

To make it even stronger you can also add a team goal and win to it. For example, if you’re staff is competing for the number of products/services sold per client visit, you can set a monthly target for the full salon which rewards everyone. This way, staff will be incentivized to also help each other achieve their goal.

Finally, make it fun. 

Gamify the experience. Maybe you win pins each day that you collect or you create a motivational leadership board in the staff room that people see every morning. Only your imagination sets the limit. 

8. Invest in the Training and Development of Your Salon Employees  

Self-growth is one of the top drivers of employee motivation (Psychology Today). 

People want to feel that they grow professionally and are encouraged to do so.

Continuously investing in salon staff education is therefore crucial for a motivated salon team. However, it can be expensive to take your staff out of the salon and send them to trend shows and seminars.

This is why you should build an annual education plan for your staff where you balance the mix of shows/events, seminars, and online education. Consider also your product suppliers who may offer training on their brands which typically is very affordable to you.

9. Offer a Salon Career Path  

We’ve learned the importance for salon employees to feel that they’re growing professionally.

And this is why continuous education and on-the-job coaching are critical to the success of your salon. But as your staff grows, you should also offer them further career opportunities. In fact, you’re much more likely to retain talent if you can show upfront what a career working for you could look like. 

If you’re making this clear and, via your one-to-one meetings, regularly discuss their progress, your team is significantly more likely to stay with you for the long run. The grass is not greener on the other side when they can see the next opportunity ahead of them in your salon.  

The typical career pathways in a hair salon are Junior Stylist, Senior Stylist, and Master Stylist. But you can also add specialist roles like Master Colourist. There are also many other functions of a salon where you certainly will need help and can give additional responsibility to your staff. Maybe you have someone who can assume the additional responsibility of Head of Marketing or Social Media Manager.

Clearly – the opportunities are endless. 

And being able to offer more advanced roles over time to your staff will ensure you have a highly motivated team with a much lower risk of leaving for another job.

10. Create an Inspiring Work Environment  

The environment we work in impacts our motivation more than we think.

Make sure you have all the basics in place with a good staff room and working stations in the salon that is practical and ergonomically good for your staff to work in. 

I’m sure you have good music, nice decor, and all else in your salon to create a good experience for clients. But make sure you don’t forget your staff here who’s spending most of their time in the salon.

A good idea is to appoint one of your salon staff to become a “work environment champion”. You can give the person a small budget so that they can ensure the salon continues to stay an inspiring place to work in.

11. Take Your Team Off Site

Take a break from the daily grind in the salon.

Changing the environment also changes how we think and see things.

It can inject new energy into the team and allow you to connect in a way that is different from what you’re used to in the salon.

At least once per year, take your team to a place away from the salon. This is a time to build team spirit, align on the future of the salon, and strengthen the culture of the salon.

This can be done in many different ways. If you have the budget, it could be an annual weekend trip that you combine with an industry event for new inspiration. Or it can be as simple as a barbecue in the park an afternoon when you close the salon early.

What’s important I just that you do it. That you invest time in the team. And that you have an agenda where you openly can discuss the direction of the salon and allow your team to express their ideas and concerns.

12. Show Gratitude, Celebrate Success, and Lift Your Staff

Sounds obvious right?

Unfortunately, we forget this all too often. Feeling encouraged and recognized is a key driver of staff motivation. When we’re in the heat it’s easy to forget this and we tend to focus too much on what we can do better vs. what in fact is working. 

Try to make it a habit to acknowledge when your staff does something good. Make sure to also celebrate good results and achievements done by the team. Share the success with your team and they’ll be motivated to ensure success in the future. Maybe you can make your next team off-site a little bit special? 

Lift your staff. Make them visible and part of your salon. You can feature them on your website and social media. In my article about the top salon websites, you’ll find good examples of how this can be done. You can also link to them in your salon Instagram bio and feature them in posts. Not only does it improve the motivation of your staff but it also gives your salon a more personal touch.

13. Run a Salon Employee Satisfaction Survey and Track Your Progress

You’re now equipped with 12 effective ways to motivate salon staff.

If you implement, at least some, of these strategies, you should soon see a shift in motivation and you should have an easier time retaining your salon staff.

But how do you know which strategies work best for you?

Ask your staff.

If you’re not doing it already, set up a regular survey that you ask your staff to complete at least once per year or every six months. Your staff should be able to answer anonymously to ensure you get an honest view of your salon employee satisfaction.

You should also keep your questions consistent so that you can track where you’re improving and catch where you have issues. 

This is super easy to do and you can run it using Survey Monkey or any other tool you prefer. Below are some questions I suggest you include. Let the team members answer each question on a scale of 1-10.

Salon Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions

  1. How happy are you working in this salon?
  2. Would you refer someone else to work in this salon?
  3. Hypothetically, if you were to quit this salon, what would your reason be? 
  4. Are you frequently recognized for your work?
  5. Do you feel the salon owner/ leadership team takes your feedback seriously?
  6. Do you know what the values of this salon are?
  7. How would you describe the culture of this salon?
  8. Do salon co-workers respect each other here?
  9. How comfortable are you giving upward feedback in this salon?
  10. Is it fun working in this salon?


Salon staff is, without a doubt, the biggest cost you have. The salon profession is all about personal meetings and services done by individuals to other individuals.

It’s a people business.

And success and failure hinge on people.

Not having a motivated team can lead to high staff turnover, poor services, and bad business. A motivated salon team on the other hand can make your salon business flourish.

In this article, I have taken you through the 13 most effective ways you can motivate your salon team.

The first 5 strategies are all about how you can manage your team productively.

Strategy 6-9 is about how you can create an effective reward system for your salon employees.

10-12 then is about creating and recognizing your co-workers.

And to ensure your making the right progress, you should follow up regularly with a survey that tracks how you progress while also catching any warning signs.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did, it would mean the world to me if you wanted to share it with any friends you have that you think could benefit from it (see social sharing buttons). If you use any strategies that are not listed here – please let me know in the comments box below. 

Before we end, let’s revisit the 13 most effective ways to motivate salon staff. 

  1. Create, and Live by, the Culture You Want in Your Salon
  2. Understand the Different Personalities in Your Salon and What Makes Them Tick
  3. Give Your Salon Staff Ownership and Involve Them in Decisions
  4. Adapt Your Management Method to the Level of Your Salon Employee 
  5. Schedule Regular One-to-One Conversations
  6. Develop a Salon Commission Model that Rewards the Right Type of Behaviors and Activities
  7. Gamify Friendly Salon Competitions
  8. Invest in Training and Development of Your Salon Employees
  9. Offer a Salon Career Path
  10. Turn Your Salon into an Inspiring Work Environment 
  11. Take Your Team Offsite
  12. Show Gratitude, Celebrate Success, and Lift Your Salon Staff
  13. Run an Employee Survey and Track Your Progress

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