Staff Retention: 5 Ways to Connect with Seasonal Employees
Whether your organization’s peak season occurs during the summer, the holidays, or some other season unique to your industry, a lot of stress and time go into seasonal hiring. You can short-circuit the anxiety associated with this time of year by building a strong bench of returning, short-term employees.
The following tips will help your organization easily retain the best seasonal employees and move through these intermittent staffing periods.
- Redefine Your Relationship with Seasonal Employees
- Integrate Seasonal Employees into the Team
- Invest in Seasonal Hires
- Show Appreciation for Seasonal Employees’ Contributions
- End the Season on a Positive Note
By integrating these recommendations into your staffing plans, you will develop long-standing relationships with this targeted workforce.
1. Redefine Your Relationship with Seasonal Employees
Creating a lasting connection with seasonal employees starts with a shift in mindset. Instead of regarding your seasonal workforce as temporary and transient, recognize them as a vital part of your ecosystem. Not only are they crucial to your organization’s short-term success, but you want them to return each season and they can even become your next permanent hires.
Treat seasonal workers with the same intention that you do your permanent employees. For example:
- Take steps to make them feel part of the team (more on this in the next section).
- Give them a sense of purpose by connecting their role to the big picture and how they contribute to overall organizational success.
- Demonstrate your position as a leading employer who values and provides growth and success opportunities for all employees—permanent and temporary.
- Discourage a pecking order where permanent employees view themselves as more worthy of attention and accolades.
This change in approach starts with leadership and should permeate all levels of the organization. Managers must model this perspective, encouraging permanent employees to also regard seasonal workers as essential.
2. Integrate Seasonal Employees into the Team
Assimilating seasonal workers into your daily functions and culture starts with effective onboarding. Take the same approach you would with permanent employees but tailor the process to accommodate a limited time frame. Focus on what seasonal workers need to know, but also ensure they are introduced to your culture.
Once any orientation and necessary paperwork is out of the way, acclimate seasonal workers by:
- Pairing them with staffers to provide mentorship
- Setting up intentional interactions between temps and permanents to build rapport and encourage individuals to get to know one another
- Creating opportunities to include seasonal workers—invite them to lunches and team meetings, include them in your recognition program, etc.
Don’t forget about remote workers; utilize technology to involve and connect them with team members (e.g., virtual meetings, Slack channels, etc.).
3. Invest in Seasonal Hires
Encourage the return of seasonal employees by showing your company’s commitment to their growth and success. Discuss their individual goals and how those might match with organizational needs and direction. Identify high performers and give them additional assignments so you can evaluate their ability to take on more responsibilities in a future seasonal capacity or fill a permanent position.
Take time to adequately train seasonal employees to fulfill their roles and meaningfully contribute. For example, include them in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. This is an important best practice, as many jurisdictions that mandate sexual harassment training extend that requirement to short-term and temporary employees. Ensure they also receive any necessary safety training. Consult with experts in these areas, such as external HR consultants, to ensure you meet legal training requirements.
When seasonal workers understand that your organization intends to have a long-term relationship with them—as a returning seasonal worker or permanent employee—they are less likely to view their role as a “temp job.” They will be motivated to produce, excel, and seek future opportunities with your organization.
4. Show Appreciation for Seasonal Employees’ Contributions
Seasonal employees are similar to permanent hires in desiring recognition for their efforts. Treating seasonal workers well maximizes productivity and fosters a connection with your organization.
Be creative with the perks you offer beyond competitive pay:
- Bonuses for exceeding expectations
- Employee discounts
- Commuter reimbursement
- Team lunches
- Birthday celebrations
- Anniversary acknowledgements for returning employees
Do not minimize the impact of simple, cost-effective gestures such as saying thank you. Thanking or recognizing the accomplishments of seasonal employees publicly—at a team meeting or in an internal social media post—is likely to increase the perceived value of that recognition.
5. End the Season on a Positive Note
As your high season concludes, ensure that your seasonal workforce feels good about working with your organization. Solicit feedback during exit interviews to uncover the positive and negative aspects of their experiences, explore their interests in returning, and express that the organization would welcome them back next season if your business plan allows.
Equally important is having a plan for staying in touch during the off-season. Some strategies include:
- Periodic communication throughout the year—share company newsletters, updates, and developments
- Invites to employee events such as holiday parties, employee appreciation days, or events specific to their team
- Encouragement to follow you on social media
When you keep communications open during downtimes, you will expedite next year’s seasonal hiring process. It will be easier to contact former employees, and they will anticipate your outreach and factor in rejoining your team into their plans.
Build a Relationship with Your Seasonal Workforce for Future Success
Although with your organization for only a short time, seasonal workers significantly impact your organization’s success, and when you find dedicated, hard-working employees, you want them to return year after year. They will if they have a positive experience.
By treating seasonal employees as part of your team and showing appreciation for their contributions, you will build a strong seasonal employee network. These individuals will not only feel good about their association with your organization but will want to maintain their connection and spread the word to family, friends, and contacts.