Remember those seasonal, summer-time jobs you did in the past? When you turned up on your first morning with minimal training and were told to get on with it? Most of us have been there and wouldn’t want to experience anything like it ever again.
Which begs the question: why is this still happening in some businesses?
Seasonal shouldn’t mean second-best when it comes to onboarding. They may not be around for long, but seasonal workers can have a huge business impact in a short time. Across Europe, the tourist accommodation peak of July and August is nearly three times higher than the rest of the year – that’s a huge chunk of annual revenue. Seasonal employees are the key brand ambassadors at this critical time of the year, so investing in their training just makes commercial sense
According to the latest UK tourism statistics, the sector is now recognising the importance of training, with expenditure on employee training increasing by 25% between 2013 and 2015. Another key statistic relates to the number of under-30s working in the sector – 46%, and many of these young workers will be seasonal.
So, what are the main challenges of training employees who might only be with you for a matter of weeks? And how can these challenges be met? Here are five pointers for achieving 5-star onboarding.
1: Get a head start
You’ve got no time to lose, given the timescales involved, so prepare now! Pre-boarding can help your seasonal employees to hit the ground running. Help them to be effective and productive from Day One, by giving them the knowledge and prep they need before they start ‘for real’. And it’s not just about knowledge, it’s also about confidence. Pre-boarding works well in most circumstances, but especially so with short-term employees.
Even where pre-boarding is not an option, starting early pays dividends. And it doesn’t have to be complicated; a short, animated video or a game on customer service can make all the difference to the onboarding experience for seasonal team members.
2: Reach large numbers
If you’re taking on lots of seasonal workers at the same time, traditional training methods might not be practical – especially if the recruits are across multiple locations. Digital learning via devices provides consistency and 24/7 accessibility. The other advantage is they can continue to tap into it, as and when they need to.
3: Maximum flexibility
Most of your seasonal employees are front-line staff dealing with customers, so face-to-face and PC training are difficult to fit in. It’s another reason why digital onboarding, delivered to the employee’s own device, works so well. The new recruits are getting the knowledge and support they need without it disrupting their work.
4: Customer experience matters
Even though time is tight, don’t be tempted to provide onboarding that simply addresses health & safety and compliance requirements. This is the opportunity for your organisation to steal a march on your competitors by providing a deluxe onboarding experience for your seasonal workers. They might be seasonal, but they’re the public face of your company. The service they offer your customers is every bit as important as the service offered by full-time staff.
According to research by PwC, 86% of the world’s best performing companies are prioritising customer experience as a business strategy and 73% of all consumers point to customer experience as the most important factor in their purchasing decisions. Having customer service skills and company values as part of the onboarding offering is absolutely essential for businesses who are serious about customer experience.
5: Nurture talent for the future
Put yourself in the shoes of your seasonal staff. What would you think – and how would you work – if you were treated as second class employees? You wouldn’t try very hard and you wouldn’t hang around, would you? Create a mindset that treats seasonal staff as potential, long-term employees who have lots to offer. Talent management should apply to all staff, including those who start out as seasonal workers. Make it an integral part of their onboarding – or risk seeing talent slip through the net. Experiential learning such as interactive video and VR work well for identifying and developing talent.
In conclusion, the companies that provide the best possible onboarding for seasonal, temporary or contract workers will be rewarded with improved customer experience, faster productivity and well-trained, motivated employees, you’ll want to keep hold of.