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Nov 21, 2014

The Holiday Season is fast approaching, meaning retailers and restaurants all across the country are preparing to hire seasonal and part-time staff to help with the added foot traffic.

However, because of the fleeting nature of seasonal positions and the fact that these industries tend to have higher-than-average turnover, it can be difficult to engage and retain temporary staff when the work ramps up.

Temporary strategies

According to Deb LaMere, vice president of HR strategy and employee engagement at Ceridian, the major factors that contribute to seasonal turnover are a lack of goal-setting, lack of recognition, and plain old boredom. She along with several CEOs discussed tactics for boosting retention among seasonal workers in QSR Magazine, and these are the tips that came out of the discussion:

  • Be welcomingTemporary and seasonal jobs can lose value quickly for the employee if they are not properly welcomed and treated as a part of the team. LaMere suggests encouraging full-time and permanent employees to make seasonal employees feel welcome and treat them like full-time team members, making them more likely to stay.
  • Set goals — Many seasonal employees quit when they begin to feel like hired help with no purpose, which is why goal-setting can be a powerful tool for retaining them. Tangible progress markers can help employees get value out of a task and feel accomplished, raising engagement.
  • Go above minimum wage — All CEOs interviewed agree that in order to attract good workers over the holidays you must pay above minimum wage. The equation is simple: better pay attracts better talent, and can save you the some $3,000 cost of replacing a single hourly worker.
  • Celebrate success –Seasonal employees may be seasonal, but the more credence you give their accomplishments the more likely you’ll see them return next season, or grow into an indispensible full-timer. DaPore suggests having a solid strategy for recognizing the success of seasonal employees and making them feel like part of the team.
  • Be flexible — California-based Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt CEO Amit Klienberger claims the answer to retaining seasonal workers lies in flexibility of schedules:

…we deal with a lot of seasonal-type employees. What we found that works is being flexible with their needs, and the more lenient you are, the more you will find yourself retaining them long-term.”

Indeed, only 19 percent of restaurants offer flexible scheduling to their employees, yet this is one of the biggest benefits seasonal employees look for. Getting schedules on short notice with no flexibility makes it harder to get to work, and easier to see yourself not working there.

The gift of retention

High turnover doesn’t have to ruin the holiday season for retailers and restaurateurs.

If you’re sensitive to the temporary nature of seasonal positions, and make a genuine effort to dispel preconceptions while giving seasonal workers tangible goals and plenty of recognition, you’re going to find the gift of higher retention in your stocking.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.