Employee experience: how to actively engage temp staff this summer

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Hiring temporary workers over the summer is a necessity in many businesses, but how can you ensure they perform as well as your permanent staff and deliver the same level of service? The key is to make sure they’re properly engaged.

As businesses slide into summer, ready to manage the surge in traffic and reach their ambitious revenue targets, they are also preparing to hire additional staff to navigate one of the busiest times of the year.

Unfortunately, temporary workers are often influenced by the transient nature of their roles, and can sometimes be disengaged and disinvested.

Long shifts on hot summer days, coupled with demanding customers, can certainly take their toll on motivation, leading to low morale, little effort and poor results.

In contrast, employees who enjoy their work are likely to have more drive and perform better.

This is why engaging seasonal workers is one of the most challenging and important tasks for HR professionals.

After all, during seasonal peaks, the pressure is on for restaurants, hotels, stores and entertainment venues to make the most of the summer crowds and maximise their profits.

It comes as no surprise that advertised retail vacancies increased by 56% in May. For these companies, the management and engagement of temporary staff simply cannot be an afterthought.

Here are a few tips on how to make this process less problematic.

Training counts

When attempting to engage temps, the kick-off is everything. The initial training is not only vital in order to clarify the new hire’s role and provide the necessary information to carry out their tasks, but also to communicate that the expectations, in terms of performance and commitment, are the same as those of permanent workers.

Employers cannot afford to treat the two employee groups any differently when it comes to the onboarding and induction phase, and should extend any learning opportunities to all seasonal hires.

Starting a new job as the business is hit by a traffic high can be a frightening experience. Being showered with staggering amounts of information on day one is likely to make matters worse.

Clear communications mean easier knowledge sharing and stronger team bonds – both of which contribute to more confident and hard working staff.

Allowing the new temp staff to access a company communications platform and consult learning material independently can take some of the pressure off the first day.

Savvy employers can get a head start on this process by inviting new starters to join the platform before their first day of work and delegate some of the training by assigning them a mentor.

Knowing your crowd is key

Seasonal workers are often young and inexperienced. They tend to be school or university students looking to earn some cash during the holidays and dip their toes into the working world for the first time.

This means that, as a new generation of workers, they are different with regards to how they want to be engaged.

Millennials and generation Z grew up in the digital age, with immediate access to mobile phones and the internet, which enable them to connect with their peers and access information quickly and easily.

Introducing communications mechanisms similar to consumer social networks can prove effective in engaging better with this audience.

Conversely, old-fashioned tools such as notice boards and even emails are less likely to have the same effect.

Employers need to find a way to highlight how important the temp staff’s contribution is to the business’s success.

Millennials want their workplace interactions to mirror those of their personal lives, so mobile-friendly apps and tools are a must.

Clear communications mean easier knowledge sharing and stronger team bonds – both of which contribute to more confident and hard working staff.

Today’s young workers value experiences more than products or salaries. Culture and relationships are what makes the experience a positive one.

According to our research, 69% of UK workers feel that workplace culture is important and 55% think having a good relationship with one’s manager is very important.

Just because temporary workers are only sticking around for a season, HR’s and managers can’t overlook the significance of building meaningful relationships and making them feel fully integrated with the company culture.

These factors can make a world of difference in terms of increasing engagement, boosting productivity and improving performance.

Recognition and opportunities win the race

Millennials are known for demanding a sense of purpose in their professional lives.

This might be difficult to create when they’re simply doing a summer job and they know they’ll be out of the door in a mere three months – and even more so if they are working alongside a more experienced team of permanent staff who, for example, make all the sales or serve all the high-profile customers.

Employers need to find a way to highlight how important the temp staff’s contribution is to the business’s success.

Giving them meaningful work is a great way to make them feel involved and valued.

Maintaining a network of skilled seasonal staff who did well the first time around will make the recruitment process significantly easier in the future.

As well as this, managers should leverage positive reinforcements by acknowledging and recognising every time they practice something they have learned, or achieve an important objective, collective or individual.

Celebrating these successes by sharing them with the whole organisation will make an even bigger impact.

For full-time employees, dedication and enthusiasm are usually spurred by growth opportunities.

This isn’t possible for seasonal workers – so how can employers prompt the same drive? Putting a new opportunity on the table might do the trick.

If a temporary employee shows talent but can’t commit to a full-time position due to other engagements, such as their studies or an upcoming trip, businesses can discuss the possibility of taking them back for the next trade peak period – perhaps the winter holidays or the following summer.

Maintaining a network of skilled seasonal staff who did well the first time around will make the recruitment process significantly easier in the future.

The summer season is a crucial time for many businesses and, because they rely on the performance of their frontline employees to deliver impeccable customer service, they can’t afford to compromise on engaging their seasonal hires.

Although keeping these workers motivated presents some challenges, HR’s and managers can achieve this by investing in training them effectively, forging meaningful bonds and appreciating their hard work – all whilst employing the right technology to reach them.  

Interested in this topic? Read Recruitment strategy: why temporary staff make businesses stronger.

About Guy Chiswick

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