There’s a good chance you’re going to be hiring new staff this coming year.

As the number of spa visits continues to grow, so does the demand for skilled therapists and service providers. And finding and retaining skilled and qualified staff is consistently cited as one of the biggest challenges for the industry.

Note that “finding” people for your team is only half the battle here. Retaining them is crucial to business success. Employee acquisition is far more costly than retention, so once you have those skilled team members, you really want to keep them. This involves onboarding, skills development, and succession tracking.

Here we’ll tack the first if these: onboarding.

You have to properly onboard new hires, or you are setting everyone up to fail. Also, research shows that companies with good onboarding programs can nearly double their revenue growth and profit margins, compared to companies with only average onboarding.

If you haven’t got an onboarding plan, create one. You know what training is required and what success looks like in your organization. But be careful.  Onboarding can be awful.

Unfortunately, office Human Resources departments can turn onboarding into a chore for everyone. Spas, on the other hand, are in a unique position to make a fantastic first impression on new employees. Employees should feel welcome, motivated, and empowered from the minute they arrive.

Here are some ways to improve your onboarding process and set new hires up for success.

Communicate with new employees before their start date.

Send a welcome email communicating your enthusiasm at having them on board, outlining what to expect during the first few days, and asking if they have any questions.

Make the first day awesome.

Make sure they have a designated space of their own, even if it’s just a cubby, set up with their name on it. Say welcome with gifts and messages. As a spa or salon with an available array of wellness, skin care, and beauty products, you couldn’t be better positioned to make a new employee feel special with a welcome gift that isn’t a pen, notebook, or water bottle (unless it’s one of these bottles, of course). Add personal messages of welcome to this package. It will go a long way towards making someone feel welcome.

Communicate meaning.

Research shows that workers – particularly millennials – want to feel that their work is meaningful, and in some cases this is even more important than salary. To instill motivation, impart from the get-go that their job will improve the lives of others, and how.

Make them part of the team.

Take everyone out to lunch if you can, so people can get to know each other. The new guy or girl will feel awkward unless there is a concerted effort made to include them. Also, making friends at work is key to employee happiness (and, therefore, employee retention).

Tell them what they need to know on the first day – and only what they need to know.

Share your organizational structure, and who they report to. Make sure they know their KPIs and success measures. Set your expectations and make sure they are understood. But on that first day, make sure to tell them only what they need to know. New hires often describe onboarding as “a mind numbing experience” because of all the talk of policies and focus on filling out forms. Don’t overwhelm your new hires or bore them to death. Anything that can be learned later should be learned later.

Don’t make them do all the paperwork at once if possible.

As we just mentioned, paperwork is no fun for anyone, and sitting around signing a million forms is pretty much the death of motivation. Forms that can be signed later can be signed later.

Encourage them to try your products and services.

Can you offer mini welcome treatments, during which time new hires can see their colleagues at work and get to know them? While that might not be possible, encourage new hires to sample your snacks, beverages, and retail items. If they know what they’re going to be selling, they’ll be better at selling it.

Encourage questions and dialogue.

Employees should feel that the can talk with the management team, so set this tone from the get-go by letting new hires know they can talk to you. Make yourself available and approachable.

Extend the onboarding for a long as you need to.

You don’t have to tell a new hire everything they need to know on the first day, or even in the first week. It takes the time it takes.