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Is the Staffing Shortage a Myth in the Beauty Industry?

At a recent conference, the attendees were buzzing about the number one problem in the industry—a shortage of staff. I listened to the CEO of a very large organization justify this shortage as a combination of:

  1. For profit schools and cosmetology/trade schools have been defunded, so fewer students are attending;
  2. The aging baby boomers have not been replaced by enough workers;
  3. The economy is so good, we’re at full employment.

These are all valid points and realities.

Later the same night, I spoke to a salon owner who dejectedly told me he couldn’t compete with his larger competitor because “they had more resources, including a full-time recruiter and HR professional.” By the end of the night I wondered how anybody made it in the beauty industry. Is there really a shortage of staff? Is all lost?

The truth about staffing shortages in the beauty industry

There’s more staff available than you could ever hire – they just work for someone else. And guess what? Many are just one bad day away from leaving their current job. I’m not suggesting you go on a raiding spree, but if the large competitor mentioned above was such a good organization, why do they need a full-time recruiter? They have one because their staff keeps leaving and they need constant replenishment.

In his book, The Truth about Employee Engagement, author Patrick Lencioni describes job misery as the combination of three things:

  1. Anonymity: not being understood and appreciated by someone in a position of authority.
  2. Irrelevance: everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone.
  3. Immeasurement: not being able to gauge their progress and level of contribution.

What good employees want–and need

Workforce expectations are changing, and the change has a lot to do with public recognition and timeliness of praise vs. raises and bonuses. Simply put, your staff wants to know what is expected (measured) and then they want to be noticed and appreciated–and quickly. Additionally, because of the prevalence of social media, they are eager to share the good news. When they accomplish goal, they want to hear from leadership that they notice the achievement, immediately. The annual review no longer cuts it. 

There’s also been a pivot in reputation management. Most people think of reputation management (Yelp reviews and customer satisfaction comments) as something reserved for consumers. However, those same principals can apply to attracting and retaining a great workforce. In today’s world, potential employees check an employer’s web presence and where the business appears in search. They also check-out what employees have to say about the place of employment on social media.

About the author:

Chris Nedza's headshot

Chris Nedza

Strategic Development Director


Chris is proud to be a new addition to the Mindbody team. He started ZeeZor, a leading software company focused on data analytics and employee engagement, which was recently acquired by Mindbody. A high-energy serial entrepreneur, Chris has emerged as a thought leader on employee engagement in the beauty industry and co-founded the Data-Driven Salon Summit in partnership with Modern Salon and Salon Today's parent company, Bobit Media. Prior to launching ZeeZor, he was founder of an Inc. 500 company as well as an owner of 43 hair salons with his wife Cindy Howell. Chris graduated with an economics degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Emory University and was a founding board member of Yale University School of Management's Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

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