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Tradies are Not the Only Manual Labourers:

The Physically Demanding Work of Spa Treatments


Julianna scored her job                       (ten being the most enjoyable job you can imagine).

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by MK Ward


Julianna is a beauty therapist and the owner of Limon Health & Beauty Spa. She founded the business and answered our questions about how much effort she had to exert to create an effortlessly, relaxing experience for clients.


“People prefer to book with the owner so I’m 90% booked all the time, working 8-11 hours a day. At first I didn’t take a lunch break and would eat fast between appointments. My stomach said no, so I have half hour lunch breaks now.”


We see that physical demands of Julianna’s work context were too high at first. Even entrepreneurs need to eat! Sometimes loving the work can mean work engagement so high that it can be easy to forget to replenish your resources (e.g., eat, drink, take a walk) to meet the physical demands of a job. Yet it is critical for those who are highly engaged to adjust the work (just as Julianna protects her lunch break), to help them meet the demands of the job.


























The physical demands of the job extend to the back due to hours spent bending over and/or massaging. These demands make it important to keep employees safe and healthy through ergonomics, equipment, and minimizing risks of accidents. This means paying attention to the physical environment as well as training employees.  


“I do have to keep up my back to strengthen it, and most girls here get back troubles because in beauty school here they don’t spend enough time on posture and back strengthening to properly do it and prevent injury.”


Although Julianna has given hundreds of facials, she says her work does not feel repetitive. Her expertise gives her a more nuanced view of the treatments, saying that waxing for different body parts gives plenty of task variety. The different conversational preferences of clients, perhaps add to the level of perceived task variety. Thus, social characteristics of work can influence our perceptions of task characteristics, in this case, for the better.

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