Employee Engagement for Seasonal Workers
Bodet advise on how to get the most out of your temporary staff
Everyone thinks of Christmas as being a time when stores traditionally take on extra workers to cover increased shopper turnout, but how many employers are giving any consideration to the engagement levels of these season staff rather than simply getting boots on the ground?
Engaged workers are more productive, provide better customer service, have fewer accidents and will be more likely to return next year. Seasonal workers aren’t a segment of your staff you can afford to ignore.
Although it’s getting closer to Christmas every day, like Scrooge heeding the message from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, it’s never too late to change your ways.
Engagement Out of the Gate
Normally organisations have a shorter period to recruit seasonal workers, so getting the right candidate for the job from the beginning is important. Availability of prospective workers is usually the main driver, but this can be a false economy. You don’t have long to train new staff, but this time will be twice as long if the initial candidate doesn’t work out. Seasonal workers are traditionally less reliable, but if they are a good fit for your company culture, they are much more likely to work the whole season. Also, be upfront about the job. Paint a realistic picture of what it will be like. Otherwise, again you could be repeating the whole recruitment process sooner than you think.
Social media can be good route to strong candidates for your organisation, providing visibility on those who already know your products/services and are enthusiastic about them. Go to sources where people naturally have the predisposition you need. For example, for public-facing roles, try drama groups, choirs and other social activity groups. Attendees are much more likely to be comfortable ‘performing’ to the public. You won’t have time to mentor these people in how to address the public, and nobody wants gloomy elf in Santa’s grotto.
Training to Engage
There are two main hurdles that a lot of organisations fall at when it comes to training temporary staff. Firstly, many rush the training/orientation for seasonal workers, or bypass it entirely. This is a big mistake. It makes workers feel undervalued, as if they’re not worth the effort of training. They will perpetuate this feeling and likely go on to underperform if thrown in at the deep-end in such a manner. Remember that no job should be seen as ‘entry level’ when it comes to worker engagement. The hiring of part-time employees is the response to increased business or spending; train them so you capitalise on this!
The second pitfall that some fall into is front-loading training. Too much, too soon is never a good thing. Try to take in a mass of information in one go, and even the most dedicated employee will simply switch off eventually. This wastes time projecting information at staff which is left unabsorbed. Anything not soaked up will need to be either repeatedly situationally, or will be forgotten entirely. Small, segmented sessions are much more efficient. The other benefit of this approach is that if staff are exposed to all their training at the start, they sometimes feel they have nowhere left to develop, nowhere to go. This is the opposite of what you want any of your workforce to feel.
As we’ve mentioned above, you want to make the most of any seasonal increases in spending or business with your seasonal workers. To do otherwise is a huge missed opportunity. It’s easy sometimes to neglect temporary workers once they’re active in the role, but they’re just like any other workers; they perform much better when engaged. These tried and tested methods are some good examples to use.
Even with temporary staff, take time to get to know them. On some level, you need to establish a rapport. Otherwise, when you administer any kind of constructive criticism, it could be the first contact you have with them. If that first touch point is negative, it’s going to skew the working relationship and could easily lead the individual down the path of disengagement. Listen and be open to any new ideas they might suggest. Sometimes, a pair of fresh eyes is exactly what a business needs. And if workers can then see their ideas being implemented, this increases empowerment, one of the holy grails of engagement.
With some members of staff being part of the company for only a few weeks, it’s sometimes hard for them to get the bigger picture of their role. Where possible, ensure workers understand the value of their position. Show them how they fit into something larger. A small cog in a large machine maybe, but a machine dedicated to providing a service or product. Tell a story of that end result so even part time employees can be given the chance to buy-in. For example, there are many different industries responsible for providing a part of that classic image of a family gathered at Christmas, giving each other presents and having a traditional Christmas meal.
When giving praise and thanks to workers, try and do it on an individual level so each worker knows specifically what they are being thanked for. That way, they’re more likely to repeat that behaviour. Blanket praise, for example just saying ‘thank you’ after a large staff meeting, can have the opposite effect; if there are any poor performers present, they will believe this level of performance is acceptable, and continue in that fashion.
When it comes to seasonal staff working shifts, don’t treat them merely as a stop-gap resource to fill in gaps in your workforce coverage. They’re a human resource, and need treating as such. Don’t schedule them back to back shifts, and give them full days off where possible. Disengagement and fatigue are a very bad combination for productivity levels.
Develop and Invest
Those organisations who don’t believe it’s worth developing seasonal staff are often being short sighted and shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to efficiency and engagement levels. A worker who has their head up looking to the future is always going to be more productive than one who’s living just to get through each shift. Plus, any staff returning to seasonal work the following year will require less training and will have a standing start when it comes to investment in the company.
Help staff see that their current ‘temporary’ position could be a springboard into a future long term career. Someone working as a cashier today has already taken their first steps on a path that could lead to retail management. Where possible, develop possible ‘leaders’ early. Not only are they then more likely to return next year, but they might even assist with recruitment.
The Final Word
Whatever you do with your season staff, don’t expect them to have the same level of engagement as your full-time staff. You need to be realistic with your expectations. Gallup state that over 70% in variance in engagement is down to the manager, so if their investment in the company is lacking, make sure you’ve done all that you can to achieve that goal. Many organisations put a huge amount of resources in to developing facilities and their product or services; a similar effort needs to be made for the employee experience.
Bodet are the leading provider of Time Management Solutions in Europe, and offer a full range of Time and Attendance Solutions which can assist with your employee engagement strategy. Our Kelio Viso X7 Clocking In Terminal provides a unique communication opportunity without the need for smart phones or workstations and our Employee Self Service Module can empower workers to make their own leave requests and monitor their time and attendance. By providing an entire hardware and software solution, our Time and Attendance Systems can deal with fluctuating shift patterns and seasonal employees over the festive period, all of which can be extracted for easy transfer into your payroll software via our Payroll Interface Software Module. Please contact us to see how we can assist your organisation.