The winter holidays (Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali and the many other holidays that pop up) are a time for giving thanks, spending quality time with family and friends and, most importantly, showing the people in your life that you care and appreciate them. The same goes for what your frontline employees hope to receive during the holidays.
Here are three things we expect your frontline staff will have on their communication wish lists this holiday season.
Understand the company’s vision and how my role contributes to it
If you’re a retailer, hotel group or restaurant chain, there’s a high probability you’ve had to hire temporary workers to accommodate the high traffic of customers you expect to see during the holiday season. The hiring numbers support this. According to a report from CNBC, American retailer Target recently announced its plans to hire 120,000 seasonal workers for the 2018 holiday season – that’s a 20 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, American department store chain, Macy’s, said it would be bringing on about 80,000 seasonal workers for this holiday season.
This isn’t just an American retail phenomenon either. Take, for example, the Royal Mail in the UK. During the holiday season, they typically have to handle more than double the normal letter and parcel volume. To meet these demands, they advertise approximately 20,000 vacancies annually around the festive season.
These employees may not be working for your business year-round, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to understand what your company’s larger vision is and how their role (even if it’s short-term) contributes to it. This doesn’t have to be such an elaborate process. But it does need to be communicated – be it in person during the onboarding process, or as part of your ongoing communications through your employee communications platform, social intranet or other tool you use to keep them informed and engaged. If you don’t communicate it, then what will motivate them to do an exceptional job and deliver excellent customer service for the few months they are working in your retail store, restaurant branch or hotel venue.
Make the feedback loop quicker and more honest
During the holiday season, things might be rushed. You may not have had enough time to fully educate and train your staff – including those seasonal, temporary workers that are only working for three months leading up to the holiday shopping period – on all of your products, packages, discounts and promotional offers. So what one team of employees in one specific retail store or restaurant branch knows could very well differ from what another team of employees in another location knows. That means the quality of the customer experience could also vary between teams and locations. But it's also an opportunity for motivation when teams perform well or are improving.
In these situations, whether it's positive feedback or constructive criticism, you need to be able to give that feedback quickly and honestly so that the quality of interactions and experiences they deliver to customers are as excellent as possible. This is where you can leverage the power of technology by using a mobile-first social platform that your employees love to use to get all the information they need, 24/7.
Receive space and respect to shut off during non-work hours
For part-time and hourly employees who work in the retail, hospitality and entertainment sectors, the holiday season is one of the busiest seasons of the year. Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone can take time off during the holidays. But if and when your frontline staff are scheduled to work shifts during peak holiday hours, such as Black Friday, it goes without saying that they should be given the space and respect to shut off when they finish their shifts and go home.
As much as technology helps your employees know about special promotions and offers, let their managers know if they can’t make their scheduled shifts and learn best practices from their fellow colleagues, it’s not an excuse to bombard your employees non-stop with messages and information and expect that they’ll respond during non-work hours. Give your frontline staff the space they need to decompress, nurture their relationships with family and friends and ultimately, cut down on stress. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your employees this holiday season and it’ll help them feel supported, empowered and engaged in the long run.
Written by Ragini Bhalla
A veteran in B2B content and communications, Ragini lives and breathes for storytelling, traveling (up to over 50 countries and still so many more to explore) and trying out new foods.