Do you have a bully in your salon team?

Sadly, workplace bullying is a common problem and one that can take a significant toll on your salon business. Standing up to a bully can be difficult and is not a situation any of us relish dealing with. However, for the sake of your team, clients and business you cannot afford to let a bully persist with their intimidating behavior.

Conflict between employees

The hidden costs of bullying

Left unchecked or poorly handled bullying can result in:

  • The employee being targeted becoming stressed and losing confidence and morale.
  • A decline in their performance and productivity, with customer service suffering and potential damage to your salon reputation.
  • In turn, this leads to increased absenteeism, even resignation and the associated recruitment and training costs.
  • It doesn’t stop with the bully’s victim. Your team are forced to work in a hostile work environment and, having witnessed the behaviour, have to choose whether to speak out and risk being targeted or stay quiet and below the bully’s radar. This does not make for a happy, positive team.
  • If bullying crosses the line into harassment you can find your salon in an Employment Tribunal.

Turning a blind eye may also lead to a loss of respect for you and your management team, so it’s important to tackle this sensitive issue from the outset.

But how?

3 practical steps for dealing with salon bullying

1. Clear upfront guidelines and policy

Workplace bullying tends to be more psychological and verbal in nature, rather than physical. For younger team members it can be difficult to understand the subtle line between salon banter and bullying.

The answer: give your team clear practical examples of unacceptable behaviour in your induction materials, your Staff Handbook and in team meetings. Encouraging frank open discussions now will help you avoid problems later.

ACAS gives the following examples of bullying:

  • spreading malicious gossip
  • insulting someone verbally or by behaviour, ridiculing them, picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • excluding them or treating them unfairly
  • overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • unwelcome sexual advances (this could tip over into harassment)
  • purposefully undermining a competent employee by overloading or constant criticism
  • intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities

Zero tolerance: This offensive behaviour doesn’t have to be face-to-face or even take place in your salon. Online and social media bullying is widespread today. Your team must understand that such conduct is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated, whether in or out of the salon.

2. Set out complaints’ procedures for bullying

Reassure your team that such complaints will be taken seriously, dealt with sensitively and in complete confidence. Remember, your employee is likely to be feeling vulnerable, emotionally raw and stressed, making them wary of raising the issue with you.

Involving your team in drawing up these bullying guidelines is always a good management move. It airs any worries or misunderstandings and helps remove barriers and future stigma.

I’d cover:

  • The practical steps you’re taking to prevent bullying.
  • Confirm all complaints will be dealt with confidentially.
  • State that bullying (not just harassment) is a disciplinary offence.
  • Set out the steps for your grievance procedures including time-scales.
  • Detail how you support both your management team and any victims.

Keep an eye out for any inappropriate behaviour and encourage your team to talk through concerns with you at an early stage so potential problems can be nipped in the bud.

3. Lead by example

Having a formal written policy is important, but the senior team also need to lead by example. Sweeping bullying behaviour under the carpet and hoping it will go away will only lead to future problems.

Prevent bullying behaviour escalating

Immediately you spot any warning signs:

  • talk to the person being bullied
  • offer them practical support
  • ask them to collect and show you evidence.

Only when you have firm evidence of a pattern of intimidating behaviour should you approach the bully. 


Members can download our free guides on employing and managing your team: