5 Ways to be a #VitalLeader

Consumers are demanding sustainability – both socially and environmentally. They want it all: quality, safety, value, and purpose. Companies that can connect with these consumers will lead the way to a more sustainable future.

We’ve curated the top five ways to be a Vital Leader in this new reality.


1. Turn Passion into Action

We all have something – socially or environmentally – that pulls at our heart strings and creates a need within to take action. Sustainable Initiatives are created when leaders align these passions with action. These Vital Leaders realize that sustainability isn’t just about “doing good” for the world at large. Sustainable efforts also have to benefit the business or they won’t last. Pursuing initiatives and efforts that make business sense are key to the sustainability of your company and making an impact.

GSN Members Mandarin Oriental and Spa Ojai offer examples of how to turn a passion into action by leading the way in creating a more sustainable future. Mandarin Oriental Spas have partnered with GSN to develop a group version of our Sustainability Assessment Tool enabling their spas to create goals that will have an impact across the brand and the world. Spa Ojai has embarked on a mission to become single use plastic-free throughout the luxury property, which all started from watching a inspiring video on plastic consumption suggested by a staff member.

Engage with what really matters to you by making environmentally and socially responsible efforts part of your business end game – part of your vision, your goals, and your success. Try brainstorming with your staff on how your passions (or theirs) could impact impact both your spa and the world.


2. Prioritize Guest Education

To realize the full impact of your efforts, guest involvement is key. Education and involvement can provide the incentive guests need to use a little less or choose glass over plastic. When guests are connected to your initiative it results in a feeling of ownership and increased participation.

For example, Natural Body Spa & Shop created ways for guests to enhance the impact of their LEED Platinum Certification with tips on “what you can do” and with the Spa Ojai example where guest participation is critical, the spa created inspirational connections with guests and communicated the impact that guests have on helping them meet their goal.

Guests want to feel like they are making a difference, sometimes even more so when they feel they are indulging on their own self-care. Allowing your guests to be a part of your efforts and communicating how their actions contribute to the bigger picture adds additional value to your services, while increasing the success factor of your initiative. Look at ways to incorporate your environmental and social efforts into your menu or promotional pieces both in print and online and ensure your staff consistently communicates the impact your guests can have while there.


3. Avoid Harmful Ingredients

Whether it’s within your cleaning products, your building materials, or your personal care products – avoiding harmful ingredients is both socially and environmentally responsible. Vital Leaders understand the need to educate themselves and take action on the health risks certain chemicals or ingredients pose to themselves, their employees, and their customers.

Avoid VOC paints, unbleached paper products, and soaps or detergents that use phosphates. Additionally, avoid personal care products with ingredients known to pose health risks such as: parabens, petrochemicals, nanoparticles, and artificial coloring.

The GSN Toolkit is a great resource for navigating the changing landscape on ingredients with guidelines and best practices to implement. Healthy and natural ingredients are listed in the Personal Care Toolkit and the Cleaning Toolkit has guidelines for implementing non-toxic cleaning products. We also recommend having conversations with your current suppliers to discuss their ‘green’ options and sustainable practices.


4. Support Your Staff

mployees are the greatest resource any business has, yet our ‘Vital People’ are often left out of the sustainability conversation. This is especially relevant in the spa industry, which sells and prioritizes overall wellbeing for its customers and yet has a perpetually overworked and understaffed workforce. It is not only a moral obligation to prioritize your employees, but also a financial one due to turnover, lost productivity, and increasing healthcare costs.

As a Vital Leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff (and yourself) are taken care of. Take a look as these three culprits of employee burnout. Incentivize your staff to take part in your wellbeing offerings and/or your sustainability initiatives, like riding their bike to work or giving treatment discounts.  Find ways to empower your staff to take action on their own passion, either within the spa or through volunteer efforts employees and guests can take part in.

Many spas already have an employee well-being program available to them, but it requires a dedicated leader to create a culture where employees feel supported and encouraged to take care of themselves and therefore be able to give back more to the spa.


5. Yell it from the Rooftops!

Now that you’ve taken all this effort to be environmentally and socially responsible, it’s time to share it with everyone. Consumers are increasingly prioritizing ‘Green’ in every aspect of their lives and those who promote their efforts will benefit most.

State your Sustainability Goals or Environmental Policy on your website. Tell the story behind why you chose a certain initiative.  For larger properties, offer a ‘sustainability’ tour pointing out the efforts you’re taking and the story behind them. Implement more ‘Guest Education’ throughout the spa, encouraging guests to ask questions. Share your efforts with GSN and other media to generate buzz before your guests arrive.

These are just some of the ways leaders are prioritizing a more sustainable future. Do you have additional tips or stories for how to be more environmentally and socially responsible? We’d love to help you “Yell it from the Rooftops” – email kate@greenspanetwork.org.