02 Jul 2022 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - Lead on

Industry insights

Lead on


According to Jeremy McCarthy, group director of spa at Mandarin Oriental, compassionate leadership will be the way to retain talent in the industry…

Employers should care about staff wellbeing photo: Mandarin oriental
The industry needs compassionate leadership to attract and retain staff photo: Mandarin Oriental

The spa and wellness industry will be forever changed by Covid, but not necessarily in the way that any of us predicted. Little did we know that the biggest challenge to our industry would be in convincing our employees to return, and not our customers.

Some of the industry change is to be expected. We have had to elevate our health and hygiene systems and procedures to new levels, while striving to instill trust in our clients to entice them to return to our businesses. We have had to adopt new technologies to streamline interactions and reduce unnecessary contact.


But surprisingly, the most important skill for businesses in the new era is compassionate leadership. During the last two years, careers have been jeopardised, earnings slashed and working hours drastically reduced. Employees have had no choice but to consider other alternatives. Many found new ways of making a living. They’ve explored long-repressed entrepreneurial ambitions and they have reprioritised and reconsidered the kind of lifestyle they would like to have. For many, they are not willing to return to the worklife they had prior to the virus.

Show compassion
The worker of today has a new expectation for what they demand from an employer. People want to work for companies which empower and enable them to also live their best lives. They expect an employer to authentically care for their wellbeing, respect their time off, their needs to support their family, and their personal ambitions.

What the industry needs now are compassionate leaders. Those who not only create a compelling vision for their own business, but also hold sacred the personal desires and aspirations of every member of their team. The compassionate leader strives to find solutions to business challenges without compromising on workplace wellbeing. The compassionate leader creates work that is fulfilling and rewarding. When customers come back to spas, the compassionate leader will have a team of passionate wellness experts that is ready to serve. Compassionate leadership is one of the most difficult skills to teach, but I think it will be the defining factor for success in the years ahead.

About the author:

Jeremy McCarthy is group director of spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, prior to which he was director of global spa development and operations at Starwood Hotels and Resorts and spa director at La Costa Resort and Spa and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.


Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2022 edition

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