Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

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How Generation Z Expectations Will Change the Future of the Spa Industry


- by Franki Johnson


As a result of new technologies, the rise of social media and the sharing economy, the world is experiencing a dramatic industrial to digital shift. Although we are very aware of the shifts taking place around us, leaders tend to leave behind the changing expectations of the workforce.

Generation Z (born 1995-2010) have grown up in a world dominated by Google, Apple and Facebook and are expecting to work for companies that ooze in brand experience and are rich in culture and empowering leadership.

The spa industry offers vast and fulfilling opportunities that fall in line with the characteristics of Generation Z however, many spa organisations are still largely customer focussed and carry poor perception of hours, pay and gruelling tasks. Generation Z have demanding expectations of the workplace, many of which clash with the existing employee engagement models within the spa industry.

The cost of doing nothing

A study by Oxford Economics found that the average cost of replacing an employee including HR and resource fees costs £30’000. If that’s not enough to put an employee engagement strategy in place, it also takes on average 28 weeks for a new employee to get up to speed. With Brexit looming and many EU workers leaving the country out of uncertainty, the UK service industry is relying on attracting, engaging and retaining UK workers to roles that clash naturally with their generational characteristics. The consequences of high staff turnover are low productivity, over-worked employees and low team morale.

The best way to engage

Richard Branson said, 'Look after your staff, and they will look after your customers', and with this generation in mind, that statement has never been
truer. Generation Z expect a place where they’re valued and appreciated, guided and supported and, inspired and empowered.

At the most basic level, Generation Z expect fast and efficient working systems that allow them to perform to their natural best. They are quick learners, multi-taskers and rapid technology users, coupled with an average 8 second attention span – slow technology in the workplace is a huge demotivator and a huge waste of company time.

Brand interaction, education accessibility and technological applications such as, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have allowed Generation Z to personalise almost every part of the user experience and when they approach the workforce – they will expect the same. Generation Z are the most hyper-custom generation yet, they personalise their playlists, shopping lists and news feeds to their personal interests. Each member of staff will have a different set of values and expectations, it’s important to listen and understand what strategy needs to be in place that works for your people.

Nurturing the brand ambassador

Generation Z are masters of earning influence, many have had their own Instagram and Facebook accounts since 13 years old and this has nurtured an innate understanding of social influencing and brand ambassadorship. This presents opportunity for service organisations to engage employees in the brand experience, before tapping into their native abilities and creating brand ambassador teams. A strong ambassador team will demonstrate strong organisational culture, boost team morale and will attract both customers and top talent. Brand ambassador teams could completely change the way we look at the recruitment and careers in the service industry. The poor perceptions of low pay and anti-social hours could become an industry where earning is opportunistic, social and flexible.

For spa organisations, investing in people, training expertise and excellent customer service practices will develop sustainable competitive advantage over time. However, managers must identify the core values that personally engage Generation Z employees to effectively motivate them. This can be identified by hosting employee engagement surveys and working with the results to implement strategic initiatives, towards an engaged organisation. Spa organisations must focus on attracting and engaging leaders in the purpose and culture of the organisation and, once leaders are engaged in the organisation’s purpose, they can begin to create engaged workforces. To successfully engage Generation Z, good human resource practices, rewarding incentives and strong organisational culture, that enhances brand employee relationships will successfully attract and retain quality talent, improving service expertise.

It’s now more important than ever to start considering differences between shared generational characteristics, how these influences have shaped the values, beliefs and behaviours of the digital mindset and be prepared with responsive strategy to retain top talent in the workplace.

To find out how you can improve your organisations engagement levels or find out more about how Generation Z are shaping the future of business – you can speak to Franki Johnson, director and consultant at Embrace Change, by emailing or connecting on

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Wednesday, 30 September 2020