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We Are Sunshine

Help Wanted: Combatting staffing challenges in a burgeoning economy

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Have you ever had an employee not show up to work on a Saturday, only to find out they chose to go to a football game or concert rather than live up to their responsibilities? In speaking with a handful of small, independent salons, that scenario seems to be all too familiar these days.

It’s probably difficult for business owners who have worked so hard to get where they are to understand the mindset of someone who would do that. But, the tendency to employer younger workers that are in school or have other jobs has always made personnel issues a problem area for tanning business owners.

And, now, with a burgeoning economy, low unemployment and swelling minimum wages, businesses in all sectors are experiencing more difficulty hiring and retaining quality employees.

“People might decide they don’t want to work Saturday, and they’ll quit because they have two or three jobs, or to go get a job is really easy. It’s the first time in history there are more jobs available than employees to fill,” says SunSeekers by Rosie General Manager and salon consultant Scott Nichols.

“A lot of our employees have another job, either bartending or waitressing, or they’re working as some type of office assistant. When something comes up that they don’t like, they have no problem leaving.”

According to a National Federation of Independent Business report, 36 percent of U.S. small businesses had open positions in June, a rate that has only been matched once dating back to 1973. Sixty-three percent of small-business owners also said they were trying to hire, but 55 percent found few or no qualified applicants.

“The four percent unemployment rate in the U.S. has depleted the pool of available workers across the country, making it harder for companies of all sizes to find job candidates,” Paul Davidson reported for USA Today on the subject. “But the market is especially brutal for businesses with fewer than 50 workers, which can’t offer the pay and benefits of larger firms.”

That means restaurants, retail stores and other small businesses that tend to employ similar demographics as tanning salons are scrambling to hire the same people you are. Overall, the economic conditions create a double-edged sword for tanning business owners: It’s more difficult to maintain staff, and it’s also become more challenging to find enough qualified candidates to fill vacancies.

Furthermore, the mad dash to find and retain good employees means that businesses are spending more on the hiring process and having to consider paying current employees more to stay and new ones more to come on. Steadily increasing minimum wage restrictions also complicate that mater. As minimum wage rises, even people that make above the rate will generally expect to get a bump, so they’ll continue making more than the lowest-paid workers.

“There’s an expectation that pay will increase quickly. I’d say that’s been going on for three to four years. In New York, there’s also the raise in minimum wage,” says St. Croix Tan District Manager Katelyn Job. “Every Jan. 1, the minimum wage goes up. There’s nothing we can do about that. Anybody who works hourly knows that and they want to maintain that buffer.”

The reality is that most indoor tanning businesses aren’t in a position to increases employee compensation more than absolutely necessary without passing cost to consumers, so it’s a challenge to find ways to compete for employees while continuing to compete for customers.

Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine online.