Whether they need to increase capacity in their retail or online store, help tax filers submit returns on time, ensure that landscape crews are properly staffed — and the list of examples goes on — businesses of all sizes rely on seasonal workers to increase capacity, meet customer expectations and maximize revenues.
However, despite the fact that the tenure of seasonal workers is (obviously) temporary, businesses still need to implement a formal onboarding process to ensure they meet compliance obligations, achieve administrative standards, and just as importantly: ensure that the new people on their roster are orientated and engaged. Otherwise, performance problems and excessive turnover are likely to erupt, and businesses can earn a reputation of being a less-than-great employer (to put things mildly), which makes it even tougher and costlier to recruit and retain suitable seasonal workers in the future.
To avoid these pitfalls, here are five proven and practical best practices for onboarding seasonal workers:
- Have an Orientation Process
Typically, seasonal employees are expected to make a contribution quickly — in many cases, the same day that they’re hired. While there’s nothing wrong with a short ramp-up (provided that it’s justified for the role), there should nevertheless be an orientation process in place that includes health and safety overviews, compliance obligations, reporting requirements, and so on.
- Engage from the Outset
Since businesses tend to hire seasonal workers when things are very busy (or just about to become very busy), there’s often a tendency to skip over what some view as optional “nice-to-have” elements of the onboarding process, such as introductions and workplace tours. However, while this may seem pragmatic, it’s counter-productive — since it can trigger disengagement from the start, and lead to turnover down the road. Making the right first impression isn’t just good manners: it’s good business.
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- Empower with Necessary Tools
Just like their full-time counterparts, seasonal workers need required tools to do their jobs. This may include safety equipment, technology devices (e.g. corporate-supplied tablet), login credentials to access software systems, and so on. It’s vital to have these tools in place and ready for seasonal workers to hit the ground running.
If this isn’t possible (e.g. VoIP phones are on back order) or appropriate (e.g. training needs to take place first) then that’s fine. In these cases, businesses simply need to explain this to their seasonal workers, so that they know where they stand and what’s in store.
- Assign Mentors
One of the most valuable strategies for optimizing seasonal worker onboarding — and minimizing risks and costs — is assigning mentors. While it’s ideal if mentors work on the same team as mentees, if this isn’t practical then the next best option is to assign the task to individuals who can point seasonal workers in the right direction. And of course, mentors must have the right personality for this task. If they’re cynical, arrogant, hostile or just plain uninterested in the role and responsibility, then instead of helping seasonal workers they’ll end up harming them — and by extension, the organization as-a-whole.
- Pay Attention to Offboarding
Seasonal workers should be interviewed or surveyed (or both) when they’re offboarding. In addition to generating valuable feedback to enhance how seasonal workers are onboarded and supported, businesses can likely improve other areas as well, such as workflows, branding, and so on.
What’s more, a legitimate and meaningful offboarding experience — complete with a thank you card signed by the CEO, gift certificate, corporate-branded item, or some other meaningful gift or gesture — can go a long way towards encouraging talented seasonal workers to re-apply in the future, and recommending the organization to their network (both as an employer to work for, and a business to buy from).
At PIVOTAL, we help businesses define, implement and optimize their seasonal worker onboarding strategy. In addition, our in-house recruiting experts can source and screen seasonal workers who are qualified, motivated and ready to make a contribution — whether their tenure is scheduled to last a few weeks, or several months. Indeed, many of the seasonal workers we’ve introduced to our clients are now valued full-time employees and key leaders.
To learn more, contact us today for your complimentary consultation.