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Putting the Health of Our Stylists at the Heart of Our Business

Occupational health in the salon should be a major concern for any employer, big or small. In beauty, our people are our business. If they are forced to reduce their hours or stop work completely because of backache, carpal tunnel, varicose veins or any of the other numerous ailments that affect our industry, the business suffers just as much as the individual.

Some years ago, I became so concerned about the wellbeing of Great Clips employees I introduced an ergonomics program. It focuses on best practice, includes suggested exercises and explains why their bodies ache at the end of the day. We cover it in orientation, with everyone given a guide to essential exercises and ergonomics, and we run training sessions regularly in our 60 training centers. We have an excellent record when it comes to employee absence and retention so I know the effort has been worthwhile.

Frequent rests and mini-stretches are easy to do and have a hugely restorative effect on muscles by increasing circulation. But stylists must also be reminded of good posture, to avoid twisting and to keep their arms as relaxed as possible. We also talk ergonomics – looking at tools and equipment that lessen the strain on our team. We even give instructions on sweeping properly, keeping shears in good order and lifting heavy boxes safely.

But it is the simple exercises and quick stretches our stylists are encouraged to incorporate into their daily routines that have the greatest impact. The key ones are:

  • Lower back stretches ease out the stiffness that comes from standing all day.
  • Wrist flexor stretches relieve tension that builds up from using shears.
  • Shoulder rolls are essential for relaxing shoulders before they begin to ache.
  • Neck and head-stretching helps reduce tension in that area and adds further relief to the back.

I’m delighted to share a video snapshot of how to do these exercises so you can consider rolling them out across your business. I hope you find them useful.

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Rhoda Olsen

Rhoda Olsen

Rhoda Olsen started with Great Clips in 1984 as a consultant, before becoming Vice-President of Human Resources and Training in 1987. She was soon also looking after marketing, communications, operations, and facilities and purchasing and in 1998 she was appointed President/Chief Operating Officer, making her fully accountable for the Great Clips organization. During Ms. Olsen’s tenure as President/COO, Great Clips grew from just over 1,000 salons in 1998 to more than 3,900, with revenues increasing four-fold from $200 million to just over a billion dollars. In 2011 Ms. Olsen was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Great Clips, overseeing the largest salon brand, with locations in more than 180 markets across North America.

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