Staff Pay Rise, Incentive Schemes or a Simple Thank You?


During all my years of managing and consulting in spas one of the first issues I have to address is about pay.


I get pounced on straight away from staff demanding a pay rise or they will leave.


But for anyone who has completed any kind of HR courses you will understand that the money is usually code for ‘I feel undervalued’.


Now I am not saying that some staff members need to be paid more and believe me I’d love to see therapists earning a heck of a lot more than they do in general, but if you truly believe that money is what motivates your staff then you will never fully connect with them.

If you are happy in your job, you feel valued and feel like you are being heard – as a staff member that goes a long way. I often remind spa managers (especially the new ones) that managing is a thankless job because we rarely get thanked for all the work we do and it is even more rare for your own staff to thank you for YOUR hard work!! However that doesn’t mean that this thankless world should filter through to your team.


When I was working in a spa in Cork a few years back, one therapist who had been there for 10 years nearly fell over on my first day when I thanked her when she was leaving that day. I asked her a while later why she looked so shocked and she said in 10 years she had never been thanked by a manager. She said the one thing she really appreciated was the fact I thanked each team member every single day for their hard work. Another story filtered through from an executive chef in a Kerry hotel. He was known for shaking every single staff members hand in his kitchen at the end of each shift. How did this kind of information that seems so small filter through the industry? Because it means so much to staff; more than you possibly realise.


Therapist’s salaries have always been a big topic and gripe in the spa industry but rewarding your team and recognising their development and hard work it’s a huge bonus for them. So let’s take a look at ways you can reward your team without having an impact on your payroll:

  • Product incentives

Contact your product companies and ask them for some incentive products for your team. You can incentivise them with weekly, monthly or even individual targets.

  • Contra voucher swaps

Connect with other spas, local businesses and invite them to do a contra voucher swap. It is worth plenty to the staff member and also great promotion for the businesses. Plus they get to see how other spas work.

  • Training courses

As Richard Branson said ‘Train your staff well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’. Many business owners are too scared to train their staff to a more senior level for fear that they will leave, but actually if you empower them to understand your business more and to develop their skills your business will benefit. To ensure you are sending the right people on courses ask them to commit to a certain period of time in your company in exchange for training. If they really want to learn they will be delighted to commit.

  • Management bonus structures

If you want your managers to reach and exceed targets then dangle a carrot in front of them. There is nothing more fulfilling than meeting or exceeding targets. So don’t cap the bonus system, or you could be capping your revenue.

  • Staff nights

Not all staff nights need to be drunken parties on the town. Why not offer a monthly spa night where therapists get to do treatments on each other the team can use the pool or thermal area if you have one. Invite receptionists and spa attendants too as they also need to experience the spa more; obviously they can’t give the treatments but it will give them an opportunity to get to know the therapists in their treatments so they can help them fill their columns better.

  • Recognition

Star of the month was one of my favourite initiatives. This was where the entire spa team get to vote who they thought was the team member of the month. I love this incentive because we get to recognise the small things that staff do for each other that we may not see.

  • Hotel swap

If you are a hotel or resort spa, why not connect with the department heads and offer them a voucher swap. Not only do your staff get to experience other departments of the hotel but also you get to see some hotel staff coming in for treatments and they will promote you after their experience.

If you do offer financial incentives then make sure it is that – an incentive/ like a gift not a right. Many staff tell me they need more wages and when I look at their pay they get commission for sales each week but it has just become part of their pay – they don’t see it as bonus money but instead simply factored into their salary.


So maybe you might need to take a look at how you offer this incentive? Maybe it’s a quarterly bonus based on financial performance. So that the therapist sees a big jump in their pay each quarter rather than being lost in their weekly earnings? That way they look forward to the bonus payout and have bigger plans for what they will do with it – thus creating more value on their pay.


And one final suggestion – ask your team. Ask them what motivates them. Everyone is different for example a young therapist who lives at home may not be as financially driven as a therapist who owns their own home and might value a voucher for somewhere to buy household items or if they have a new baby or young family a voucher that benefits the entire family. Find out what makes your team tick and then you can work towards motivating them more.

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