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As lockdown lifts and salons are starting to reopen, everyone is making plans. It’s worth considering how to support your team’s mental health as they return to work.

A global pandemic is not a situation any of us have lived through before. Mental health experts are predicting a rise in illnesses related to stress. You might find that only a very small number of your team catch COVID 19, but everyone is affected by it.

The stress they feel can lead to a difficult atmosphere in your salon. Stress also leads to less productive work and more days off, so it’s important to take this seriously. Of course, as a caring employer, you will also have your team’s best interests at heart on a more personal level.

Luckily there are things you can do to help everyone adjust well to the new normal we find ourselves in.

Make sure your team feel safe

After spending months at home, many people feel anxious about returning to work. The main worry is the possibility of getting ill or bringing the virus home to family.

You can take some practical steps to reassure your team that safety is your top priority. You will already be putting measures in place to protect everyone in your salon. Make sure you let the team know what your plans are and exactly how everything will work.

Ask if they have concerns or questions and make them part of the process. When people feel involved in what’s going on they worry less. You never know, someone may even have spotted a problem that you hadn’t thought of!

It’s a good idea to have a video call with each team member. You can explain the changes and discuss any concerns they have. Do try to work together and make accommodations where you can.

Practical Arrangements

Supporting your team’s mental health as they return to work is about more than providing masks and hand gel. The world is a long way from being back to normal and the practicalities of that are another source of stress. Your team may have children who can’t return to school or their usual childcare. This means that someone has to stay at home to care for them, and there’s nothing the parents can do about it.

Aim to be understanding about any requests to remain furloughed, or to work more flexible hours than usual. These could actually work to your advantage as you reduce the number of clients seen at any one time. Thinking creatively as a salon owner can help everyone.

Staff may also worry about financial issues and job security. You can help them to feel more secure by being open about the situation. Discuss the date each person will return to work as far in advance as possible, even if that’s subject to change. It allows people to feel that they know what’s happening and make any plans they need to.

Vulnerable Staff Members

There has been a lot of confusion over who is considered vulnerable. Only those who are “extremely vulnerable”, have been told to shield. If any of your staff fall into this category then, of course, you will support them in staying at home. Having said that, there are a lot of people who are classed as vulnerable. This includes those over 70, pregnant women and anyone with asthma among other things.

The vulnerable group are advised to stay at home where possible. They have also been told to be extra careful with social distancing. If any of your team are vulnerable then it’s important to discuss the situation with them. Find out what arrangements they would like to make. Some will prefer to take on a non-customer facing role. That could mean working each evening to deep clean the salon or doing admin tasks from home.

What else can you do?

It’s worth considering taking a mental health first aid course like this one. You’ll cover topics like how to encourage a healthy atmosphere in your salon. Some experts recommend that all team leaders are trained in mental health first aid, especially now.

You can also support your team’s mental health as they return to work by encouraging everyone to sign up for our free, certified course in COVID 19 infection control. They will learn how the infection spreads and what they can do to keep both staff and customers safe. The unknown is always scary, but when people are better informed they feel more in control.