Securing the right spa staff

The phenomenal growth in the spa industry has ensured a high demand of experienced spa staff, acc-ording to Sharon Moore, recruitment manager of Spa Resources International, a specialist spa recruitment company in Dubai. However, is the industry ready to meet this high demand with well-qualified and experienced staff? Here, Moore provides an insight into making the best recruitment decisions

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By  Sarah Gain Published  September 19, 2006

|~|Cleopatra-SPA-2.jpg|~|Moore recommends conducting a first interview, followed by at trade test, before making a final selection for any spa position.|~|The phenomenal growth in the spa industry has ensured a high demand of experienced spa staff, acc-ording to Sharon Moore, recruitment manager of Spa Resources International, a specialist spa recruitment company in Dubai.

However, is the industry ready to meet this high demand with well-qualified and experienced staff? Here, Moore provides an insight into making the best recruitment decisions.||**||Education|~|Cleopatra-SPA---(ITP-Bus-Pi.jpg|~|Sharon Moore and one of the therapists from the Cleopatra Spa at Wafi.|~|As a recruitment manager for Spa Resources International in Dubai, I am constantly inundated with candidates’ questions on which position they should apply for. One thing we always look for is a candidate who is passionate about his/her industry, has the international certificates and the knowledge, and is not just looking at the position from a financial point of view. This ensures that we always provide clients with the best and most professional staff, which will leverage the business of the spa.

The main concern nowadays is that the education sector of the spa industry is finding it difficult to cope with the demand for qualified personnel, and with only a limited number of authorised schools to provide industry recognised courses, the industry is years behind being able to catch up with the demand for qualified spa staff.

In the Middle East at present there is only one authorised school, the Cleopatra Beauty Institute in Dubai, which provides the appropriate qualifications for the spa industry with internationally recognised diplomas like CIDESCO and CIBTAC as well as new executive courses like the newly-launched spa management course.

Further to the limited number of qualified spa staff, spa recruiters need to realise that a course for a therapist can take between eight months to two years. This means that if you are looking at hiring a therapist entering a course now, the earliest you would be able to hire them as a qualified therapist would be mid to late 2007.

Now most hotel spas insist on hiring certified therapists and spa managers, but there are only so many to go around — so what do you do to entice the ones that are trained?||**||Attracting the right staff|~||~||~|In today’s world, qualified spa staff are able to pick and choose the spa they wish to work for. There are a number of important criteria that will help them make this decision. One is of course remuneration. You need to be confident that you are offering a competitive and attractive salary package.

Another important factor is the facility and if they will be working with well known products and feel that they can gain knowledge and experience by joining your spa. Furthermore, the overall working environment is also a key concern for staff today; are the massage beds at the appropriate height, are they provided with all the equipment and products they require to perform a treatment in completion?

Today’s spa staff are very knowledgeable and professional, and they know exactly how the spa should run and what to expect. The quality spa candidate will interview you just as much as you will interview them.

Taking these points into consideration and ensuring that you remain on the cutting edge will certainly assist you in attracting and retaining the right staff.||**||Choosing the right staff|~||~||~|Finding the right staff is a daunting task. We have many clients contemplating whether to search for the staff themselves or to use a recruitment service. It is a standard debate in the industry. However, we do find that as the industry is growing rapidly spa managers need to focus on ensuring the quality and image of the spa is maintained at all times.

The lengthy time it takes to process an application is not the most efficient use of their time, and we find that the majority of our clients opt to bring a recruitment company on board. It makes life easier for clients as they save time and money by utilising the industry skills and professional database of a recruiter such as Spa Resources International.

All hotels have a human resources department and one option some hotels consider is utilising their own HR department to recruit the spa staff. However, this does not always prove the most effective solution, as the HR director, more often than not, does not come from a spa background.

Whilst they will have HR skills second to none, their knowledge of the specific spa treatments and the standards required to be met within the spa are limited.

The other factor to consider is the time it takes to recruit the right candidate. Did you know that you can receive up to 50 applications for a vacancy and it takes approximately six hours to process one candidate? The process is lengthy. You must first conduct some form of advertising, and then screen the multitude of applications that will come in. After you have selected a shortlist, you will contact them and arrange for an interview.

After conducting the interview, you will then need to arrange for someone to conduct a trade test, if you are not qualified to do so.

Trade testing a therapist is not an easy task. It takes someone from the industry with extensive experience to be able to feel and see the right technique being performed in a treatment. This is not an area that you would want to make a mistake in, as a badly trained or inexperienced therapist can damage the image and profile of your business or, even worse, cause harm to your guests’ body. This is not the result you would expect from a reputable spa.

Each spa is so unique and finding the right personality, the right look and, most of all, the right attitude can be a challenging process. A guest will remember the whole spa experience. However, the main memory they will take away with them and tell everyone about is about their therapist — the intuitive touch.

Following the trade test, you would need to conduct at least two reference checks, to ensure their previous references are up to the standards you require for your facility. Once all of this has taken place, you would then arrange a second interview leading to another shortlist that has to be made for a senior manager to perform the final assessment. The result: a candidate is offered the position.

A total of 300 man-hours is spent and this will give you no guarantee that you have been able to employ an ideal candidate for your spa.

In addition, most qualified staff will not apply to spas directly, as they are generally so busy and unaware of the number of spas coming up. Instead, they will normally place their CV with a reputable recruitment agency, who specialises in their field, and let them do the work.

Nevertheless, the industry cannot resolve the shortage of qualified staff overnight; however, we can certainly assist our clients in having first choice of the qualified staff currently available.

At the end of the day, one personal touch from an intuitive therapist can change your spa business forever.

SRI Recruitment recruits for the spa, wellness, fitness, beauty and leisure industry. For more information, contact Sharon Moore on E-mail: sharon@spa-resources-international.com. ||**||

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