5 Ways to Engage and Motivate Seasonal Workers

 4 Ways to Engage and Motivate Seasonal Workers

Employee Engagement Hiring Recruiting Recruiting Strategies Talent Management

Looking for ways to improve holiday hiring and retention? Our research offers smart strategies for keeping seasonal workers motivated and integrated, especially in retail and hospitality.

The holiday hiring season is upon us, presenting unique challenges for those in seasonal industries.

Hospitality and retail have some of the highest quit rates of any industry in the U.S., and this year businesses are calculating their holiday hiring budgets against ongoing inflation and reduced spending by consumers.

These two factors combined make it even more important for employers to consider how they approach seasonal employment. You don’t want to go through the effort of onboarding someone who may leave before the season ends — especially when you have limited resources to hire anew.  

Here are five tips for managing seasonal workers this year.

1. Connect seasonal employees to a purpose

Seasonal workers still want to feel connected to the business. Unfortunately, most managers immediately train contractors on their tasks and don’t take time to explain the company’s mission or vision. As a result, they focus solely on the task. 

With no connection to the company, the job is transactional. Contract workers, therefore, don’t give more than what’s explicitly stated in their contract. 

Leaders who take the time to explain the big picture and why the work is essential will get better results and see more highly motivated contractors. It can also be a powerful recruiting strategy, as you’re more likely to attract the right employees when they know they’ll be joining something that’s more than “just a job.”

In fact, our 2023 workforce study found that connecting purpose with work is a crucial factor in employee retention, especially during holiday hiring periods. When employees feel their work has meaning, they are 2.7 times more likely to stay with an organization.

2. Welcome seasonal workers as full team members

Of all the high-trust leadership behaviors, being welcoming to new team members is the most influential on employee retention. According to our research, when a leader is welcoming, employees are four times more likely to stay.

However, in the process of hiring seasonal employees, it's common for employers to overlook the importance of integrating them into the company culture, often rushing through onboarding.

 “When someone joins your organization, you should make sure that they know you were expecting them — and that you couldn’t wait for them to get here,” explains Michael C. Bush, CEO, Great Place To Work.

Consider assigning a buddy to make seasonal workers feel welcome and connected to colleagues or take them out to lunch to answer questions. If the role is remote, a video call can go a long way towards forming a connection. 

3. Let seasonal employees know there is opportunity for growth

While they may be short-term, even seasonal employees should be considered within your overall talent management strategy.

Is there a possibility for them to return year after year, or could they become full-time employees down the road? While it’s unlikely that you can offer a position to every contractor who impresses you, you can make it known that opportunities are available.

Not only can this motivate seasonal employees to do the best possible job, but it also gets managers thinking about contractors as more than just a moment in time.

4. Recognize great work among seasonal staff

Recognizing the efforts of your staff is key in retaining seasonal workers; everyone wants to feel appreciated and know that their contributions are valuable.

Let seasonal workers know when they’re doing a good job and that you consider them a valuable part of your team. Creating a culture of recognition should include your temp staff, too!

When possible, invite them to company events and gatherings, especially if they’re working on-site. Send them greeting cards or personal notes. As seasonal workers receive your gratitude and the opportunity to experience the company culture, they will feel more engaged and more motivated to do their best.

5. Be flexible

If you place too many restrictions on a contract worker’s schedule, they may lose motivation or become frustrated. While it’s difficult in retail or manufacturing to be flexible, it’s easier to provide office staff with the flexibility they need to pick kids up from school or attend their holiday events. 

Ask your contractors and seasonal workers up-front about their ideal schedule and try to make it work. But more importantly, respect their right to personal time and don’t assume they’re free to jump on your projects when you need them.

Add Great Place To Work Certification to your holiday staffing solutions.

Incorporating Great Place To Work® Certification™ into your holiday staffing strategy can be beneficial. By showcasing your company's dedication to fostering an excellent workplace for everyone, including seasonal staff, you may enhance your ability to retain these workers not just for the current season but possibly for future ones as well.

Claire Hastwell