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Hatstand Nelly is a hair and beauty salon in Aberdeen with 18 employees. Manager Lorraine Watson spoke to us about how Healthy Working Lives has helped to reduce sickness absence by two thirds while boosting turnover and customer satisfaction.
Hatstand Nelly’s investment in staff wellbeing has seen its turnover and client base grow annually.
In 2007, the company decided to contact Healthy Working Lives for help with the issue of staff absence. Manager, Lorraine Watson, explains why:
‘For a lot of our team it’s their first job. They come in straight from school at 16,’ Lorraine says.
‘We find that we have to teach them that it’s very important that they come to work, that they can’t let clients down.’
It wasn’t difficult to do and I’m really glad I did.Lorraine Watson- Manager
Healthy Working Lives helped Lorraine to put together an absence policy, so that all employees know what’s expected of them from the very beginning.
‘It was an easy process. A lot of the policy was in place already so we just needed to formalise it. It wasn’t difficult to do and I’m really glad I did. It’s definitely helped.’
Following the advice from her Healthy Working Lives advisor, Lorraine has also introduced an incentive scheme to encourage higher levels of attendance. In the past, some staff had routinely taken ‘a few days off’ every month, which had a negative effect on the number of client appointments that could be scheduled. Lorraine says that the quarterly bonus of £75 for perfect attendance has paid for itself, by helping to increase the turnover of the salon.
‘I can strongly recommend it to other businesses, as even if they did this and nothing else their business would be more efficient.’
Lorraine explains, ‘Since we started out in 2004, we’ve nearly doubled the number of clients we have, and they’re spending three times as much on average. We’re on track to meet our targets – and a big part of that is having motivated and healthy staff who want to be part of our success.’
Hatstand Nelly’s groaning mantelpiece holds awards for business, customer service and hair design. This year Lorraine was delighted to be nominated for the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland’s 2012 Director Award for Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing. ‘Although we didn’t get into the final, it was great to be in the running with some bigger enterprises – and confirms that we’re taking the right approach to investing in our staff.’
They also looked at other potential reasons for absence, and decided to help staff to avoid back problems, with a programme of talks and activities at work.
‘I’m a classic example; I hurt my back a few years ago and had two weeks off work - I’d never taken a day off in my life! It made me realise that it was because of twenty years of standing slightly wrongly, and I thought, ‘I need to make sure that my team isn’t suffering in this way!’
One of the salon’s clients, a qualified physiotherapist, gave a talk about the long-term effects of poor posture.
‘The physio was brilliant. Posture is really important; a lot of people stand wrongly and they don’t realise they’re doing it.’
This session was followed up with a pilates lesson in the salon, helping staff to learn practical skills to improve their fitness levels.
As a result of all this work, sickness absence at Hatstand Nelly has reduced by around 60 per cent.
The team at Hatstand Nelly has held many events, talks and activities to help improve the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of the staff:
Lorraine believes that this new culture of wellbeing shows in the atmosphere at the salon, and that customers pick up on it too:
‘We’ve all been to a place where you think, ‘These folk aren’t really getting on very well’. It makes you feel uncomfortable, and I think it’s really, really important for getting new clients in and retaining them that your team is happy, she says.
‘I see Healthy Working Lives as a bit of marketing for the salon, Lorraine continues. ‘If you hold events and activities, the team talks about them, and that is your marketing.’
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