Hands up if you’ve ever felt surprised by getting to the end of Summer and realizing that Christmas is only three months away? No, not just me? Isn’t it funny how year in and year out, we’re always surprised by how fast time goes by!
Three months might seem like still a while away, but for retail store managers it means one important thing; it’s time to recruit for their seasonal workforce.
By 2020, more than 40% of the US workforce will be so-called contingent workers -that’s more than 60 million people. Despite this prediction, most people think that seasonal workers (in other words, those who are only employed on a short-term contract) are simply not worth investing time into from an employee engagement perspective. But when you consider how important it is for retail companies to alleviate pressure during peak seasons and create consistency in capacity throughout the year, these gig workers should be cherished.
Our latest research study found that one of the biggest issues facing companies who depend on seasonal gig workers is a lack of communication and engagement. The research also found that 43% of employees who onboard seasonal workers state that they think these workers perform above expectations, confirming that these workers are often overlooked and arguably should require the most attention for business performance.
Given that communication is a relatively basic tool within business, there are several simple and easy steps that can be taken to ensure your seasonal workers are productive, engaged, and feel valued this upcoming holiday season.
Provide access to the company's communication channels
Our research found that employees in organizations with many seasonal workers do not have a preferred way of communicating with their temporary workforce. They indicated that they are likely to communicate with seasonal colleagues through multiple internal channels, which can result in a lack of clarity as these employees already need to be on-boarded and trained faster than their permanent colleagues.
As seasonal employees often work at the frontline of organizations, it is important that relevant information is focused and easily accessible to all employees, including those who do not have access to computers and phones in the office. Using one integrated platform, such as an Enterprise Social Network, can help these employees easily find necessary training and processes information, reach peers easily, and facilitate conversations with more ease through a messaging platform.
Communicate openly and provide feedback loops
Seasonal workers who are hired into an organization where they make up the majority of staff are treated less personally and are on average less engaged with those in organizations with fewer seasonal employees. This occurs when staff are less willing to make an effort to onboard and guide seasonal workers, resulting in lower engagement, productivity and retention rates.
But all hope is not lost. HR can mitigate this by actively engaging with seasonal workers from the head office to encourage all staff to create a culture of inclusiveness, regardless of employment status. Use your companies communication channel to send regular check-in messages and create groups for these new employees, and provide access to what’s happening in the wider company.
Show them your appreciation
There are clear links between employee appreciation and business performance, regardless of an employee's term of employment. And it goes without saying that the ideal workplace culture is welcoming and appreciative to everyone - not just those who are there for the long run.
Engaged employees understand that their tasks are vital to their company's mission and appreciate knowing that they have played a part in their company's success. Creating engagement through sales benchmarks and work goals is a simple but effective way to maximize the productivity of temporary employees. When these employees join your team, share quantifiable goals they should work towards during their time with your organization. Check in with employees frequently to discuss those goals to foster progress.
Plus, greater engagement results in increased productivity, improved organizational performance, higher customer satisfaction, and sales.
Written by Louise Blair
All the way from "down under" Louise has joined Speakap to help businesses to build better relationships with their workforce. When she's not busy producing the Frontline podcast, you might catch her running... while listening to a podcast.