It Starts in the Interview Process
Be honest and up front with seasonal employees during the interview process. As the holiday season inches closer, hiring managers become more desperate. This can lead to hiring managers hyping the work that will be done.
“Tell them the job they are really going to do,” advises Bob Phipps, AKA The Retail Doctor, on his blog. Be straightforward about their role in supporting your regular staff and that opportunities for deep training are unlikely.
While this will leave plenty of potential hires uninterested, those who are offered a position and accept it will have a clear understanding of their role.
Training and Onboarding
With permanent employees overworked and the store understaffed, it’s tempting to not even train holiday staff.
However, investing in training for seasonal part-time employees is well worth the time and cost. eFront suggests providing seasonal employees with training or onboarding before they even begin the job. “By providing this seasonal training upfront, temporary employees are less likely to feel uncertain or unsupported in performing their new role.”
Expectations for just how much training/learning temporary staff is going to do also should be realistic. Keep in mind that seasonal employees tend to have other responsibilities, perhaps including another job.
As reported in the Las Vegas Review Journal, JCPenney trains employees for six hours over two days. Training focuses on a number of things including the computer system, the company history, the company culture, and how JCPenney does business. Seasonal employees also shadow veteran employees.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday sales for the 2019 holiday season will be 3.8-4.2% greater than those in 2018
In order to be a good manager, one needs to be a good communicator. Although holiday staff is by nature temporary, they deserve to be communicated with in the same manner as other employees. Treat them like the regular staff through training and beyond.
Phipps says, “Hold them as accountable as regular employees. Just because they’ll only be with you 6-8 weeks doesn’t mean you have a different performance scale.” Doing so will not only benefit the seasonal employees but the regular staff as well. Expectations do not change.”
Communicating the benefits to seasonal part-time employees should also be part of training. At JCPenney, training of seasonal part-time employees includes discussion of benefits such as “25 percent off items on top of any store deals” and the company offers to donate “$150 in employees’ names to any charity to which they donate 10 hours of service.”
Clearly communicating both the positive and negatives while training holiday staff aids in creating a workplace where expectations can be met. It allows the seasonal employee to truly feel part of the team.
Respectful of Time
Many seasonal employees have other jobs and responsibilities. They appreciate the temporary nature of the job as long as it fits into the rest of their personal schedule.
Therefore, when considering whom to hire, Phipps advises hiring managers focus on seasonal employees’ availability. “Don’t pass them up because they can’t work at any and all times. You hire to fill the needs on your schedule; you don’t alter it to match their availability.”
Another way to show respect for season employees’ time is to give them their schedule in advance. An article from Red e App suggests employers, “post schedules as far in advance as possible. This will allow employees to exchange shifts and clear up conflicts.” Leaving busy seasonal employees unsure about their schedules until the last minute can lead to negative occurrences such as “no-shows and poor customer service.”
Phipps suggests giving holiday staff their entire 6-8 week schedule during training.
Being flexible in how training is offered to seasonal employees – be it virtually or with multiple time slots – also shows respect for their time.
Let Them Know of Potential
Seasonal employees are by nature temporary. For many holiday staff, temporary work is all they are interested in. Others, however, hope the seasonal part of the title will be dropped and that they are hired on past the holidays.
When training seasonal employees, they should be made aware of any long-term positions that are potentially available. The training should include clearly explaining what the expectations are (to be considered for a long-term position).
Training staff need to be careful in how this opportunity is communicated. Just as this creates an incentive for those who are interested, it can also be a source of great disappointment if the job does not come through. Or worse if the offer is not genuine.
Retail managers don’t want to disappoint their holiday staff since these people could come back year after year, become regular shoppers, or even advocate for the brand.
Hiring and training seasonal employees is a great challenge for retailers. When holiday staff is trained properly, they can be a great asset to your retail outlet by ensuring your store is prepared for the holiday rush.
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