Got Salon Workplace Stress? Here's How to Fix It

Liz McKeon is the founder of the International Salon Business School and is an internationally renowned salon expert, a bestselling author, speaker, salon coach and trainer. Here, she shares good advice for salon professionals.

Most people don’t mind stress, as long as it’s someone else’s and they don’t have to deal with it! Of course, you know that stress impacts on your work life, but what if you could turn that stress into success? What kind of life could you then lead and what sort of salon or spa could you build?

Stress levels have increased due to various reasons, such as recovering from the Pandemic, uncertainty in the market place, rising costs, staff shortages, increased demand from clients, ever expanding workload and so much more.

Liz McKeon

Salon owners and managers common mistakes are:

You think you can do it alone

Salon owners and managers sometimes take on too much, thinking they can cope without additional support. Perhaps you think you are saving your money by covering a number of responsibilities — but in reality you could be wasting money in missed opportunities and inefficiency. Often, under stress, the one thing we become incapable of doing well is delegating.

Better communication and prioritizing objectives are therefore essential. Identifying better resource management, prioritizing the workload, anticipating pressure points, delegating and monitoring progress are all important in dealing with stress.

You don’t say ‘NO’?

Perhaps you are one of those managers who are capable of sustaining high levels of activity over a long period of time, and it has become expected that you always perform to that level. Your team are unlikely to be aware of the sacrifices being made. Worse again, there may be no reward for your sacrifice — in fact, you may even have additional work dumped on you! The solution is being assertive and saying ‘no’ when the pressure is too great.

You succumb to a ‘long hours culture’ at work

In some salons, stress creates status, where stress is interpreted as accomplishment. Many salon managers put in long hours in the hope that their hard work will be noticed and rewarded, but are secretly resentful that they have to do this. Better to be productive and happy than exhausted, stress and sick of your salon and all that goes with it.

Watch your time management — make every moment effective by being truly focused and not dividing your energies by worrying.

You take it out on others

Stress is no respecter of boundaries. Stress from your role within the salon will eventually affect all other elements of your life too. Try not to transfer the work pressure to those who are not part of the problem, either in or out of the salon. Work on the causes of your work-related stress, and not the symptoms.

Pressure v Stress

It is important to be able to distinguish between pressure and stress. Pressure is motivating, stimulating and energizing. But when pressure exceeds our ability to cope, stress is produced. Continued high levels of stress can, at worst, result in illness, depression or even mental health issues. However, there are a number of signals that help you detect when your levels of stress are bordering on dangerous.

Take a good look at your well-being. If you experience any number of stress symptoms (such as on-going irritability, suppressed anger, feeling unable to cope, insomnia or nausea) on a frequent or constant basis, it is time to start looking for causes and reassess your priorities. These symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that you have crossed over the dividing line between healthy pressure and harmful stress. 

Once you’ve admitted that you’re not coping with the current everyday pressures of work, the next step in the process is to identify the sources of stress in your workplace/business. Once this is done, you can draw up a plan of action to minimize or eliminate the excess pressure.

Plan to deal with your own stress:

  1. Understand what causes you stress, when you are likely to become stressed and how you can avoid these situations.
  2. Take responsibility. It is you that is being affected and you that needs to resolve it so don’t be afraid, ashamed or uncertain to admit that stress is a problem, because the longer you deny it, the worse the effects of the downward cycle.
  3. Identify the source of the stress. The solution is then to rationally consider how to take down the stress wall that is encircling you, brick by brick.
  4. Anticipate and plan for stressful periods.
  5. Develop strategies for handling stress, consider reducing the cause of stress, or learning to accept it, if it can’t be removed.
  6. Understand and use management techniques to prevent and reduce stress.
  7. Learn to relax, which can be easier said than done.
  8. Acknowledge stress in others.
  9. Build a positive team environment. It is possible to reduce stress for others by developing good communication systems, a supportive team approach, a blame free environment and a clear sense of involvement and responsibility.


Take steps to move from stress to success, such as:

  1. Recognize the symptoms and understanding the causes of workplace stress are vital in preventing it becoming an issue.
  2. The changing nature of work makes stress more complex, varied and quite possibly more common among salon owners. It is important to acknowledge that you are stressed and act upon that knowledge quickly — draw up a plan of action and follow it.
  3. Remember that you have to work at reducing stress — it won’t happen by itself! The time you devote to managing stress will be repaid by increased efficiency and enjoyment of your time, both in the salon and at home.
  4. Most importantly, reward yourself for your accomplishments — go out of your way to acknowledge your everyday achievements. Give yourself some little reward for doing so well at work and for doing your best on all occasions.

Success in your salon demands self acknowledgment. You have chosen to be a salon owner/manager — welcome to the bumpy road of entrepreneurship! From time to time you will encounter setbacks, defeats and failures — some of which might seem fatal, but they are not. As entrepreneurs there is no such thing as failure, only experience of different feedback. You have to keep going, stay strong and even cheerful when the going gets tough, so become a master at managing your stress.


Liz recently received the perpetual "All Stars Thought Leader Award in Empowering Female Entrepreneurs."  Read more about her at

And read her past columns for American Salon here:

Expert Advice: How Hair Salons Can Manage the Competition

How to Empower Your Salon Team

10 Ways to Motivate Salon Employees and Staff

How to Maintain Professional Boundaries in Your Business

8 Steps to Creating a Business Plan for Your Salon