Six ways to improve retention of seasonal staff.

As we edge ever closer to the festive peak period, retaining staff for the duration of peak can have a huge impact on productivity and Q4 performance. With competition for talent expected to be fierce this year, we’ve outlined some retention strategies to help you keep staff members all the way through the busy peak period.

1. Give staff areas a spruce up before peak begins
Sounds like an obvious one, but we visit dozens of client locations per month, and often the staff canteen or break-out areas are tatty and tired, with peeling paint, damaged furniture, and empty vending machines. A fresh lick of paint, new furniture, cleaned carpets and a well-stocked vending machine can have a huge boost to morale, and will result in people taking more care of their surroundings whilst feeling a little more valued.
2. Integrate the new with the old
Candidates joining your team for the first time will be apprehensive and a little anxious about what to expect (think first day of school syndrome). Buddy up new recruits with an existing member of your team for moral support. Having someone to look out for recruits on their first few days in a new job will have lasting effects and will help to make new team members feel welcome.
3. Measure performance and give feedback
This point is especially relevant for working environments that have high volumes of seasonal labour, where it is difficult to provide one-on-one management. It’s important that candidates receive regular feedback, to ensure they have a clear understanding of what is expected from them. All too often seasonal labour is seen as “disposable”, and great candidates are let go because they didn’t have a clear understanding of what was expected from them, and how they could improve.
4. Say thank you for hard work and reliability
It’s amazing how often this simple action is overlooked. When managing a large team, it’s impossible to build relationships with all team members, however, taking the time to seek out high performers to thank them personally can have a huge impact on making them feel valued.
5. Avoid unwittingly segregating temps and perms
If you want seasonal and permanent team members to perform collaboratively, it’s important they feel part of one team. Often processes are implemented to accommodate seasonal labour which highlights differences between temporary and permanent workers; this can lead to segregation and a feeling of “them and us”. An example of this is when agency workers are given different colour uniforms or safety equipment compared with permanent staff.
6. Set up ways for workers to feedback their thoughts
This can either be in the format of a traditional suggestions box, or perhaps a Facebook group. There will almost certainly be some fantastic insights from your workforce on how to improve various areas of your operation, and having a channel for feedback will ensure you capture them.

There is no one strategy fits all, but the common theme in the above suggestions is about putting yourself in the shoes of your workforce. During times of stress and high activity over peak periods, it’s more important than ever that people are pulling in the same direction.

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