Beyond The Bottom Line: The Cost – Human And Financial – Of Burnout

Salon burnout happens to others, not to you, right? Wrong. Burnout can happen to anyone who identifies so strongly with work that they lack balance between work and personal life, says The Resilient Hairdresser, Hayley Jepson

by ATHERINE | THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS

Burnout for salon owners is an epidemic in our industry and it’s having a massive impact. Many employees sorted out their own burnout by going freelance, but salon owners can’t do that – they worry too much about being responsible for other people’s incomes. And at the moment, they’re not only dealing with appalling trading conditions, they feel like they’re being blamed for all the problems in the industry – no wonder they’re struggling.

There’s a saying in therapy: ‘Anger is sad and scared’s bodyguard’. I think salon owners are scared, and anger feels better than scared. People start looking for others to blame. Some salon owners are blaming freelancers for everything; others are blaming the brands putting their products in Boots. People are spending a lot of energy blaming the outside instead of taking that energy and focusing on what they can control.

“When you’re burnt out, completely overwhelmed, you exist in survival mode and lose the skill of imagination, creativity and play – that causes a massive problem.” Hayley Jepson

As a leader, what you bring is what you get. It’s so hard to be the one bouncing around at the top inspiring people all the time, and when that goes, it goes from the whole salon. You might disengage from the team, be less present, and that’s when people start solving their own problems and looking around to see how they can get their needs met for their careers – and leave for a better offer, or to open a shed in their garden.

When you’re burnt out, completely overwhelmed, you exist in survival mode and lose the skill of imagination, creativity and play – that causes a massive problem. You become so focused on payroll, breaking even, that you lose sight of the bigger picture. You’re so consumed with your own problems that you don’t sort of see the bigger problems arising.

And then you get paralysed when it comes to making decisions. You’ve listened to every business podcast, you’ve done every course, you’re reading every self-help book. When you have too many ‘mentors’, you usually end up doing nothing because you have no idea where to start. Eventually, you ask yourself, ‘Do I even want to do this anymore?’, and then you’ve got one foot out the door paralysing and everything becomes very half-hearted. You’re not really in it – your business.”

Time to reset

You might just need a break – a week off, a change of scenery, and a bit of peace and quiet so that you can start thinking clearly. Ask yourself, ‘What can I take off my plate – at home and in the salon?’ Trying to do everything yourself could be one of the reasons you’re drowning, but ordering coffee, ordering stock, booking staff holidays – that doesn’t have to be you. You need to delegate so that you can put as much energy as possible into thinking about the business and leading your team properly.

Find business inspiration, and not necessarily from within the hair industry. Networking events and groups in your local area give you the opportunity to talk to other business owners – ones who are looking to improve not just the moaners. It’s important to find people to talk to who understand.

“To tackle burnout, you must first decide: are you in or are you out? Because if you’ve got one foot out the door of the business, it just won’t work. You’ve got to make sure that you create the brain space and the physical time to work on your business” – Hayley Jepson

To tackle burnout, you must first decide: are you in or are you out? Because if you’ve got one foot out the door of the business, it just won’t work. You’ve got to make sure that you create the brain space and the physical time to work on your business.” Hayley Jepson

Have one-to-ones with all your team and ask for their ideas. Don’t do a big staff meeting, no one talks in them. Sit down with everyone individually and explain, ‘I’m really interested in what you’ve got to say’. But be careful, because what’s really demotivating for a team is to be asked for ideas constantly, and then they’re never implemented.

Finally, it’s important that business owners make time for life outside of work, or it will become a drudge and overwhelming. Set boundaries about your life. Allocate a set time for working on the business. The vision of the business must be you; you can’t employ your manager or expect your team to do the vision. Stay in your zone of genius.”

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