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4 Ways to Keep Seasonal Employees Engaged

December 3, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230174

For many businesses, there comes a season when we need a little extra help. Whether that falls at the end of the calendar year or when the warmer weather rolls in, one of the primary challenges of bringing on extra help – especially temporary extra help – is keeping them engaged. After all, customers want good service, whether it’s from someone who’s been with you a few weeks or a few years.

Business coach Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco offers these tips to get your seasonal employees “all in” when it comes to caring about your business:

State your expectations. Forget the employee handbook. Come up with a one-page summary that succinctly tells employees what you expect and how to get ahead in your company. Be clear, Martin says. Tell them that you expect everyone to be greeted with a smile and that you expect to treat even the most unruly customers with respect. Give them a chain of command to follow for reporting and solving problems. And tell them what you truly value in your employees, whether it’s tenacity, innovation, people skills, or simply arriving on time.

Related: Amazon Boosts Holiday Hiring

Use contests. Figure out the behavior you wish to encourage and create contests to encourage that behavior, Martin says. If your seasonal workers are in the warehouse, you might create a contest where employees are split up into teams and the team with the least breakage or most on-time shipping record wins a reward. Cashiers and sales associates might compete for the most accurate cash register tallies or the gathers the greatest customer feedback. Look for ways to create rewards for a wide swath of employees so “winning” seems accessible and possible.

“This type of friendly competition often raises everyone’s game,” Martin says.

Banish “us” vs. “them.” Sometimes, longtime employees may be an engagement deterrent because they don’t respect the seasonal employees. Make it clear to them that the seasonal employees are part of the team, too, and that everyone is expected to work together. If it’s possible to assign a senior employee to work with seasonal employees as a mentor or trainer, you might also create rewards for good training or based on the performance of those seasonal workers, Martin says. For example, if you have a team leader whose seasonal workers exhibit particularly strong engagement or great results, reward the leader publicly.

Show a path if you have it. While it’s not possible to hire all of your seasonal workers, this can be a great way to find new talent. If you do have a path to become a permanent employee, make that clear.

“Tell seasonal workers what you look for in a long-term employee and what the possible career path might be if they perform well. You can’t make promises, but if there’s a possibility that a seasonal job could be permanent, those employees may work harder to make that happen,” she says.  

Related: 4 Seasonal Business Survival Tactics