Any visit to Dubai salon favourite Browz will confirm it’s a calm, cocooning, comforting space to spend time on self-care. However, Founder Michele Barclay is determined that this idea of a safe space should extend to her employees as well as her customers. Here she tells Grazia how she achieved it.

How can employees navigate a toxic workplace?
The best way I would combat a toxic workplace is to create a positive environment. If the environment is positive, it just won’t be toxic. It is really important to boost employee engagement and get them to contribute to the business beyond just doing their jobs. Their wellbeing is super important, if their mental and physical health is at an optimal level then it is unlikely that the work environment is going to be toxic. I think leadership is key: you have to lead by example. If you set the tone you want the team to follow, it is more likely that they will; rather than if you contradict yourself on how you want them to behave. Making them feel valued, supported and respected brings all of this together.

How do you create a positive work environment?
As a company, it is very important to have a set of shared values with the girls. We encourage goal setting towards creating a vision for Browz as well as accountability amongst the team and mutual respect on a regular basis. Whatever the vision I have expressed to the team, they buy into it and everybody feels part of something greater than they would be alone. We schedule regular daily and weekly meetings to create a healthy environment where we encourage everyone to share, we provide feedback and keep it professional. With 30 years of experience in the beauty industry, I am able to skim through what is real and what is not. I can focus on conversations and ways to improve as a team. It is a constant environment of improving; how can we be better than yesterday. What can we learn from? How can we really focus on being the best version of ourselves?

How can you boost employee engagement?
I would like to think that we encourage individuality and diversity amongst the team. We have regular incentives and appraisals, therapists of the week, we offer work flexibility, we have a spiritual healer on hand for anyone who needs coaching on any level. We have a daily drive each morning to catch up on what is important for the week. We start the day with a mindset based on physiology; rather than going to work and starting off a regular day. That way, you feel that you have reference points before you actually start your workload. Education is very important; I would like to think that we are creating a culture based on coaching. We have many types of women in the organisation, from working mothers to bread-winners to people who are sending money to their families. We have played a big part in creating the right environment, so people feel when they come here that they are already part of luxury.

How do you invest in your employees’ wellbeing?
Everyone is encouraged to express their personality while respecting each other at the same time. Employees are able to share how they truly feel and not be driven by fear. I invest in them with my time, ears and attention. That is the biggest investment I can make rather than purchasing items for them that cost money. We believe we should hang our attitude aside and train the skills because we do not hire our skills. Unless someone has a terrible attitude, it is very difficult. To have an amazing attitude is born in people and you can build amazing, real women from that. We would like to think that we grow our girls into confident, real women who feel good about themselves.

How does your leadership avoid a toxic work environment?
Walk the talk, I believe you should have your own values and set of intentions. You decide what time you wake up in the morning and you stick to that. This carries you all the way throughout the day. If you can’t represent yourself in a manner that you would want to see, I think it starts at the top and people just emulate. This migration that filters down to everybody else is what you are.

How to make your employees feel valued, supported and respected?
Simple acts are very important, such as saying ‘thank you’ and making people feel appreciated. This filters down in the company; we congratulate the girls on a job and say “well done”. I believe in the ripple effect; it all comes down from the top. Do I respect myself, my health and my team? And do they in return respect their individuality and their team? The girls have always got someone to listen to their concerns, this includes any challenges in and out of work. Everyone is encouraged for their own individuality.

What advice would you give to an employee who works in a toxic workplace environment?
We can be the change that we want to see. If you just look within and trust that you can be that change, it can be small incremental changes done consistently every day. It makes a small ripple effect and eventually, people start to change how they look at you and suddenly, changes radiate out. It can change a culture; one person can change a culture. Focus on meditation, focus on what you want to change, what you want to be and how you want to represent yourself. Little by little, people will start to resonate with you and change with you.

Find Browz on Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, UAE. Call +971 50 841 4289 or email hello@browz.ae

Photos: Supplied