What is Employee Autonomy?
Stefanie Fox Jackson

Stefanie Fox Jackson

Beauty Industry Team Builder ✨ Advocating for salon owners & stylists to build successful, cultured long lasting

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What is autonomy? We hear this word being thrown around today by our workforce and by companies marketing jobs and we still find ourselves asking “what does this really mean”.

By definition, autonomy is the ability to self-govern.

Let us consider what that means in the beauty industry. At Talent Match, we believe there are three essential areas you can focus energy to develop an ability for your team to be more autonomous.

  1. Their schedule
  2. The way they look
  3. Their ability to grow

Schedule flexibility is a key priority for today’s beauty industry workforce.

They tell us loud and clear that they want a say in their schedule, they want a set schedule, and they want to know about what that schedule might look like as early as the first interview.

If you are hoping to create autonomy in your business as it relates to flexibility my suggestions would be this:

  • Figure out 2 to 3 schedule options that an employee in your business can work. 
  • Design a schedule that ensures they have ample time off and flexibility for not working weekends.
  • Offer your team unlimited vacation time and build expectations and trust around how it can be used without impacting their income.

Creating a Flexible Dress Code the Encourages Autonomy

Tattoos, bold hair color, and body piercings have long been part of the beauty industry employee “look”. But we have also held on to the idea that ponytails, jeans, and hats are no-no’s when it comes to dress code.

It is time to evolve our thinking and build solid expectations around how we ask our teams to show up looking “great”- without dictating to them exactly what looking great means.

To create autonomy around dress code you can easily set your team up for success by simply sharing examples with them of what it means to you and the salon brand to “look great’ and be on brand. From there you have to trust your team to show up and embody what you are thinking.

Your success here will live in how you hold your team accountable.

If someone shows up and does not look great by the brand standards, then you can help them see their opportunity to enhance that particular look while still leaving the autonomy to dress in their own style.

Lastly, an important element of autonomy is helping your team see an ability to grow inside of your business.

What pathways do you offer for them that can have some element of customization so that they never feel like there is a cap on their potential income at your business?

We know that many stylists opt into a booth rental scenario because they want to “earn more money” and ‘have freedom of schedule”. We also know that many stylists really wish they could just come to work and do their craft. and then go home.

In fact, according to the 2021 Workforce Report conducted by Talent Match, 84% of them really just desire this level of work. They don’t feel confident they can get those two things in your business though and it causes them to make alternate choices from the get-go or to leave when they really could stay. 

Autonomy in growth paths could look like the following: 

  1. How do we continue to elevate your pricing to match your talent and demand?
  2. How do I offer you options for passive income working here?
  3. Is there a path where you could invest and be supported in opening your own salon and expanding our brands footprint?

Autonomy does not have a secret sauce, but it does require you to dig in and face tough challenges that have had long-standing “beliefs” holding back our ability to solve them. 

Make sure you check out my YouTube channel for more on this and bring the conversation there or onto Instagram or Clubhouse. We love to keep it going!

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