WHEN SPA DIRECTOR BENJAMIN
DONAT began preparing for reopening at Fairmont Hotel and Resorts in Austin in 2021 after spa facilities were closed for more than 18 months , he was doing so in a whole new world . His most immediate challenge was finding staff after only two of the spa ’ s 25 employees returned to work . “ Compensation was one of the reasons why ,” he says now .
Finding new people in a time of tremendous wage pressure is no easy task . When your compensation structure is not aligned with the market , that task becomes exponentially harder . Donat called on his peers at other spas in the Austin area for insight into just how much pay levels had changed . “ We conducted a wage analysis to see where we were lacking and what other spas were paying ,” he says .
After reviewing that pay data , Donat raised the employee service hour fee by 30 percent to bring it to the competitive standard . The spa also raised commissions for all providers and staff and made sure contractors would not lose out on any earnings if they signed on as employees . The spa raised prices for its services in order to offset the resulting costs from these higher pay levels .
However , recognizing that he could only increase employee pay so much , Donat made some adjustments to help increase employees ’ earning potential . The most significant change was to reduce service time from 60 minutes to 50 minutes . This extra 10 minutes allows employees to fit in one extra service if they choose .“ That raises their hourly wage even more ,” he says . Donat also introduced some new perks , including free parking and lunch , for employees .
As a result of these changes , the spa is forecast to increase revenue this year compared to 2019 , its last full year of operation , while also increasing staff retention significantly . However , Donat recognizes that the talent market is still in flux so he will revisit this new compensation structure every six months to make sure it remains aligned with the market .
Clear the path When it comes to changing pay , it is important to have a clear idea of why you are doing so and what you need and want to achieve . When Jim Root , former general manager of Sedona , Arizonabased Mii Amo Spa , was revamping employee compensation , he had three goals in mind . The first was to ensure that its employees earned a living wage ( not a simple goal in an expensive resort town ) that reflects the value of their time and experience . The second was to tie service cost to the guest to pay for the employee .“ There ’ s no way not to link cost per minute and compensation per minute ,” he says .
The third goal was to attract more talent . In Root ’ s case , competition for talent was not always coming from other resort properties but from the lure of less demanding career options . “ People don ’ t want to work like they did in the past ,” says Root . “ They want something else .” Quite simply , he had to find a way to make people want to stay in the industry and come work for him .
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2022 n PULSE 17