9 Ways to Turn Your Seasonal Employees into Top Performers

Keeping employees motivated is a challenge that retailers face all year round, but the task becomes especially difficult during the holidays when you’re dealing with seasonal staff. Why? Because unlike full-time employees, seasonal workers may not be as invested in your company and thus may not exert themselves fully.

If you’re struggling with empowering your seasonal workforce, fret not. Here are 9 staffing tips you can try in your business.

Create a profile of your ideal employee

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Get clear on what you’re looking for in an employee. That might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many employers glaze over this step. Determining your needs isn’t just about listing your desired knowledge and skills, you also need to identify the attitudes that you want in your employees.

Ideally, you want someone who understands your customers and embodies your brand well. For instance, if you’re a health and fitness store, you should set your sights on applicants who are naturally interested in healthy eating and exercise.

To streamline this step, Kevin Graff, founder of Graff Retail, recommends that you create a profile of your ideal hire.

“Know what you’re looking for,” he notes. “It’s a lot easier when you have a clear picture in mind.” – Kevin Graff, founder of Graff Retail

So before going out there to find new hires, take the time to build an ideal employee profile. Include not only the skills that you’re looking for, but also the type of people (i.e in terms of attitude, disposition, and interests) that would be a good fit for your organization. Don’t forget to share the profile with your hiring manager so they can use it when evaluating candidates.

Invest in training your seasonal hires

They may be temps, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on training. As Graff notes,

“You know they’re only seasonal staff, but your customers don’t, and they won’t care either.” – Kevin Graff, founder of Graff Retail

His advice? Spend time training your new hires and ensure they’re up to speed with your policies and procedures.

For best results, use a combination of training methods to get your points across. For instance, if you’re teaching your staff how to process returns, you can do so by demonstrating how to do it and by providing a handout or an online educational guide they can refer to later on.

Remember, people have different learning styles, so you want to cover your bases when educating your team.

Strike the balance between corporate and local training

While it’s always a good idea to keep your training methods consistent across all your stores, don’t forget to include lessons that are specific to each location. This will help employees tailor the shopping experience for different markets. As Marta Moakley, an attorney and legal editor at XpertHR puts it,

“If the business operates in a number of jurisdictions, the training should be have a corporate focus to maintain cohesive messaging, but also include specific information regarding local requirements and preferences.” -Marta Moakley, Attorney and legal editor at XpertHR

Let’s say you have two stores. One of them (Store A) is located near a school, while another (Store B) is situated beside a supermarket. Employees working in Store A must be trained to relate to students and young consumers, while those in Store B must be equipped with the skills to sell to mothers and household decision makers.

Pair seasonal hires with full-time employees

When scheduling holiday shifts, see to it that you have both temporary and full-time employees on the floor at any given time. This will help keep your seasonal staff members in check and ensure that they can always turn to someone familiar with the store should they have any questions or concerns.

Additionally, pairing temps with full-time workers helps build rapport among team members. It encourages collaboration and communication, thus preventing  your seasonal staff from feeling alienated and developing an “us versus them” attitude.

Rehire previous employees

It may be worth going through old employee files to see if there are people you can rehire. Did anyone perform admirably in the past? Can you think of former team members who would be interested in working for you again? Give them a call and make an offer.

Re-hiring previous employees can speed up the training and orientation process. Chances are, these individuals are already familiar with your processes and policies, so they would only require a few refresher sessions to get them re-oriented with your business.

Provide cash incentives

Realistically speaking, you’ll be hard pressed to find seasonal workers who are fully dedicated and motivated to work during the holidays.

“With seasonal hires, the unfortunate truth is that their loyalty to the company is generally low. They are there to do a job and get paid for it, thus, the outcome is generally irrelevant to them,” – Ty Tucker, CEO of performance management platform REV.

“This is why companies need to provide additional motivation for their temporary workers, whether it is intrinsic or through incentives,” he adds.

Cash, of course, would be an obvious incentive. If you have room in your budget, consider motivating your staff by offering cash rewards or bonuses to your top performers. You could, for example, give out a $100 gift card to the employee who made the most sales in a given week or month.

Time and resources spent planning are wasted if the program is not executed

Give people a deeper reason to do well

According to Tucker, another way to motivate employees is to champion causes that are deeper or bigger than monetary compensation.

“Companies can position their messaging to show that they care about the greater good rather than fiscal value. In return, employees will feel as though they are a part of an intrinsic organization goal that is validating on all levels and not just monetary. For example, if someone is working remotely at a Best Buy customer service center, the company can provide training to highlight that they are there to help and bring joy to customers during the stressful holiday season. They have the opportunity to make each caller’s lives a little bit easier. That shift in thinking can cause a significant increase in your seasonal staff’s productivity.” – Ty Tucker, CEO of performance management platform REV

If possible, offer the chance for full-time employment

“For temporary employees seeking full-time employment, raise the stakes by treating the seasonal position as an opportunity for workers to try out for a permanent job,” recommends Tucker.

“If possible in your organization, offer the top performing temporary hire a permanent position with the company. This will add a sense of purpose to their day-to-day activities and it will ultimately lead to more success within the company.” –Ty Tucker, CEO of performance management platform REV

A chance at full-time employment could be just the thing to motivate your seasonal hires. Plus, the benefits of eventually hiring some of your temporary employees can work both ways. Your workers will get a steady job, while you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to hire and train someone from scratch.

Conduct store audits to assess their work

Determine if your seasonal staff is doing a good job by assessing their output. How well do they do know your policies? Can they carry out your processes according to your standards? Are your programs implemented without a hitch?

The best way to answer all these questions is to conduct retail audits. Assign a manager or third party to examine your programs and operations and ensure they’re up to snuff. For example, they could ask your seasonal workers to perform jobs such as closing the register or stocking your shelves, then asses how they carry out each task.

Needless to say, if someone isn’t performing up to your standards, take the necessary steps to remedy the situation and get your workforce back on track.

Now we’d like to hear from you. Are you hiring seasonal employee for the holidays? How are you planning to motivate them? Weigh in with your comments below.

About the author:

Francesca Nicasio is a freelance writer and content strategist who’s dedicated to writing about retail trends and tips that help merchants increase sales, improve customer service, and be better retailers overall. Her work has been featured in top retail industry publications including Retail TouchPoints, Street Fight, Retail Customer Experience, VEND, and more. She’s also a featured thought leader on LinkedIn, and is followed by over 300,000 professionals on the site.

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