Permanence is defined as “the state or quality of lasting or remaining unchanged indefinitely”. But let’s be honest… does anything actually remain unchanged indefinitely these days?
Well, at least nothing in the business world. That’s why companies are turning to temporary employment during the busy seasons. Last year, US retailers employed around 738,800 temporary workers over the holiday season. Possibly more convincing is that only 60% of farmworkers work for more than 180 days a year.
Of course, there are many other examples of the need for hiring seasonal employees. Think of ski resorts that only need ski instructors in snowy seasons. Or municipalities who need lifeguards only during summer months.
Seasonal hiring, also known as holiday hiring, is indeed the way to go if your business experiences predictable highs and lows in the demand for products or services. It’ll save you months worth of salaries and wages when sales don’t cover the costs.
But just because seasonal employees are, well, “seasonal”, doesn’t make a temporary workforce a shortcut to busy-season success. In fact, season workers may just present you with a whole new set of challenges.
There Are No Shortcuts to Seasonal Hiring
A temporary workforce is usually thrown into the busiest time of the year, and expected to perform at the highest level, while also being acutely aware that they are not a permanent part of the team.
This is a dangerous combination for a group of people you’ll rely on to get your business through the season rush. The solution? Offer your temporary employees seasonal training. This is important for a number of reasons.
1. Developing the necessities
Seasonal employees are new employees. New to the company, new to the job, and new to the team. This means that they may not have all of the skills or knowledge, or be familiar with internal team members and processes, in order to be productive from Day 1 on the job. Training your employees is an important way to get your seasonal workers up to speed on people, processes and responsibilities.
2. Creating engagement
Most of the time, a temporary workforce feels the “temporary” nature of their job. They’re aware that they are not a permanent part of the team and the company, and this can make them feel disinvested and disengaged in the work that they’re performing.
Training your seasonal employees makes them feel included, and demonstrates that they are as important to the company as permanent employees. It also sets the understanding that expectations placed on the temporary and permanent workforces are equal.
3. Investing in potential permanent hires in the future
Research has found that 63% of retailers plan to hire one in every ten seasonal employees. And they’re not the only ones. Seasonal employees may be temporary – to start with – but when it comes to finding the best people to join your business on a permanent basis, who better to recruit than those who’ve met the team, done the work, and know the drill?
So why not make sure that they’re trained up from the start, and give them a fair go at proving their competence?
Tips and Tricks for Seasonal Training
By now you might be convinced that training your seasonal workforce is important. But you’re probably also wondering how best to implement this. So here are our top three tips and tricks to help you with your seasonal training.
Setting your season workers up with training on or before their first week of work is a great way to onboard them onto the team. You can provide training on everything and anything related to team building, technology, processes, or specific knowledge and skills of the new role they’ll be taking on.
By providing this seasonal training upfront, temporary employees are less likely to feel uncertain or unsupported in performing their new role. Instead, they’ll be capable and comfortable with the tasks they must perform, and with the people they’ll be working with. This way you’ll see higher performance, from earlier on in the season.
Training at Regular Intervals
Now, while early-on training for onboarding is a must, you’ll also need to be careful of pushing an overwhelming seasonal training load on your temp employees. You know what they say: balance is the key to everything. So rather than scheduling all of the training up front, try to schedule regular training throughout the season.
Cover the most critical skills and tools during onboarding. Those areas core to performing the job are usually worth prioritizing. Leave the useful but less critical training for later on, like team building and engagement activities. Scheduling ongoing training at regular intervals results in a more manageable training load – one that motivates, rather than scares!
Training with Buddies
Starting a new job can be daunting for the best of us. Even more so when you’re considered temporary, and are joining a new team during the busiest season of the year. Talk about exiting the comfort zone!
This is why on-the-job training with a work “buddy” can be an effective way to get your seasonal staff comfortable and competent. By pairing seasonal workers with an experienced, permanent staff member, they’re more likely to learn quickly and to feel like part of the team.
Making Training Stick
Once you’ve invested in seasonal training, the next challenge is making sure that all of the learning that took place during that training actually manifests as behaviors and attitudes in the workplace. Management is key here.
Management should actively support seasonal training, and encourage employees to practice what they’ve learnt in the workplace. One of the ways that managers can encourage positive employee behaviors is through recognition.
We’re talking about recognizing and acknowledging seasonal employees every time they practice what they’ve learnt in training. This could be anything from verbal acknowledgement of good performance, to tangible rewards like financial incentives or time off. This kind of recognition motivates season workers to practice the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired in training.
The Benefits of Online Seasonal Training
Training can be a difficult thing to prioritize. Much of the time, you need seasonal employees to be working toward sales targets and other business outcomes. This makes training a little inconvenient.
But seasonal training doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Even team building activities don’t need the whole team in a room together. How is this possible? Through online training and eLearning courses.
eLearning unleashes a range of innovative technologies, like gamification, interactive infographics, branching scenarios, and analytics. These technologies help to create a seasonal training program that is engaging, convenient, and designed for optimum learning and retention.
Furthermore, using quizzes, discussion forums and videos allows season workers to learn bite-sized chunks of information and/or skills, as and when they need it. This way, training can fit into employees’ busy work schedules, instead of the other way around.
But if online seasonal training sounds like the option for you, make sure that you choose the best LMS to deliver your training.
It’s Your Season!
There’s no time like today. If you’re leveraging seasonal jobs hiring during the busy periods, start planning your seasonal training for improved employee engagement and performance today.
Planning today makes for a smoother running season tomorrow.