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A quick-start guide for seasonal employee onboarding

‘Tis the season for temp, contractor and freelance talent to shine. Or not, depending on your seasonal employee onboarding practices.

Because here’s the thing. Employee onboarding might be an obvious choice for permanent staff - but investing time, effort and budget into onboarding seasonal employees? What a waste of time. Except, it's not.

Seasonal onboarding is absolutely vital to business success. 

And we’ll prove it. Here are 4 reasons WHY onboarding seasonal employees matters. Then keep reading for 5 tips to get seasonal onboarding right.

Onboarding seasonal employees matters because...

 

Retailers in the US are expected to hire more than 700,000 seasonal workers, to put this in perspective. Seasonal employment is a big deal.

Which means seasonal employee onboarding is a big deal too. Here’s why.

#1 – Better onboarding means better performance
 

You’re only hiring to meet temporary needs, true. But those needs are just as important as permanent needs. 

Which means you need your seasonal workers to be just as capable as your permanent employees of doing a fantastic job. And employee onboarding plays a fundamental role in empowering your people to excel. 

Consider, for example, that the average new hire takes 8 to 12 months to reach proficiency. If you settle for that, your seasonal workers will be long-gone before they reach peak capability. Which ultimately means you’ll have to hire more people to achieve the same results, which has a pretty large cost attached.

Or you could invest in better seasonal employee onboarding. Which leads to 54% greater new hire productivity. That’s like getting a whole extra person for every two hires.  

#2 – Guard against long-term reputation damage and revenue loss
 

Seasonal employees might only be in your business short-term but they often have a long-term impact. Seasonal onboarding can dictate whether that’s positive or negative. 

Consider, one third of Americans will consider switching companies after a single bad experience. Just one bad experience can cause potential lifetime revenue losses running into the thousands of dollars.

If not hundreds of thousands, given that Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience.

The influx of new workers over the seasonal period paired with the higher volume of customer service experiences increases the potential for those negative experiences massively 

Ensuring those new hires are as well-equipped to represent your business as possible is a no-brainer. Onboarding seasonal employees properly is your most powerful weapon against long-term reputation damage and revenue loss. 

#3 – Win the fight for seasonal talent 
 

The hiring landscape has been challenging for years, and it’s especially so now. Especially in industries like retail where seasonal employment needs are heaviest.

Which means it’s harder than ever to meet large seasonal employment quotas. 

Imagine being Target, who are hiring 120,000 seasonal workers this year.  Or Macy’s, adding 80,000 workers. Or Kohl’s, who are hoping to find 90,000.

Kohl’s started recruiting their Christmas seasonal workforce way back in June, which gives some indication how difficult seasonal hiring is right now.

How does employee onboarding relate? Because employee onboarding is a major driver for employee engagement. (That’s one reason employee onboarding results in 50% greater new hire retention).

Onboarding seasonal employees is an important aspect of building your reputation as a seasonal employer-of-choice. A strong seasonal employer brand, you could say. (Find out why employer brand matters today more than ever).

That’s the perfect antidote to a difficult hiring market, helping you hire the cream of the seasonal crop ahead of your competitors. 

#4 – Build a trusted talent pool
 

You have to hire seasonal workers every year but you shouldn’t have to start from scratch every year. Even accounting for the higher proportion of fill-a-gap type workers (like students, for example) who move off the talent market regularly. 

If you do, you’re making hiring much more difficult. And you’re probably incurring reputation damage because you’re almost definitely doing something wrong from an employee engagement perspective. 

The thing is, short-term workers can be a long-term asset. If you treat the start of their employment like the start of something. Not a means to an end.

And that’s where seasonal employee onboarding is so important. It sets the tone for your future relationship. So they're there when you need seasonal workers next year but also maybe when you have a permanent need.

Many seasonal workers will ultimately look for a permanent position. If you have a positive long-term relationship with them, that could be with you.

And who better?  They know your business, your practices, your people and your culture. You’re pretty much guaranteed a fantastic, value-add hirewith lower recruiting costs too.

It’s win, win. And it all starts with onboarding seasonal employees like you care. 

Here's how to get seasonal employee onboarding right. 

Seasonal employee onboarding should look like THIS

 

That’s the why. Here’s the how.

#1 – Cultureboard
 

Seasonal employee onboarding plays an important functional training role, sure. That’s how come 77% of new hires that hire their first performance milestones had formal onboarding training.

But don’t stop there. 

The most effective employee onboarding is cultureboarding – where you show employees what it means to be part of your culture. Seasonal employees should have the same onboarding experience as other employees - embedding them into the story of your culture. 

That’s how you maximize the impact of seasonal employee onboarding. To boost engagement, amp-up performance, and ultimately build that long-term talent pool thanks to your stellar seasonal employer brand.

#2 – Convey clear expectations
 

A strong seasonal relationship starts with communicating clear expectations.

Nothing causes bad blood faster than seasonal employees that don’t understand how seasonal they are. Or seasonal employees that don’t understand what you expect from them and when.

Part of onboarding seasonal employees is setting clear goals and objectives. (Read our three step-by-step recipes for successful employee objectives.)

This means each employee knows what you expect, so they’re ultimately likely to perform better. And it helps your managers better manage this wave of seasonal workers, to empower them towards achieving those objectives. 

And it shows seasonal workers they have a role in your business’ master plan – which gives them a purpose, to boost engagement. (Read more: 8 employee engagement tactics for remote teams) 

#3 – Automate so everyone has a better experience
 

Normally you might only onboard couple of new hires at any one time. And even then, finding the HR and manager bandwidth for comprehensive and consistent onboarding can be a real challenge.

Then multiply that by ‘Christmas! Oh god it’s Christmas!’ and you have a much bigger problem.

Enter automated onboarding.

Employee onboarding software can automate all the arduous, time-consuming tasks involved in onboarding – so you have time to focus your energies on the more important bits.

In practical terms, that means you don’t have to chase employee admin for tens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people. And you don’t have to answer the same-dang-question for the one-millionth time. 

And you do get to spend time on the social and cultural parts of onboarding. You do have time to address the real, people-to-people HR issues where you can have genuine impact.

Safe in the knowledge that your seasonal workers have everything they need to hit the ground running. 

That’s better for everyone. 

#4 – Get everyone on board with seasonal onboarding
 

Employee onboarding shouldn’t just be an HR thing. Especially seasonal employee onboarding.

HR don’t have the capacity (nor the inclination) to handle the whole process yourself and anyway – best-practice onboarding involves myriad supporting players across your business.

Like… recruiters, HR, L&D. But also like… direct managers. Mentors. Senior leadership. Representatives from key functions.

Get those people involved and you share the onboarding ‘burden’. You also create a more well-rounded, more holistic, every-touchpoint style of onboarding that’s more effective, so seasonal employees never feel they’ve been abandoned.

The point is this. When you’re thinking about seasonal employee onboarding, you need everyone on board. That's the key to creating the best onboarding experience for your new seasonal hires. 

OBS_eshot_icon3  Read more: The list of employees you should involve in employee onboarding

#5 – Include offboarding
 

There's one HUGE difference between onboarding seasonal employees and onboarding your permanent staff. You know these hires are going to leave. It’s built into their job description. 

And that’s an incredibly valuable opportunity. Exit interviews are one of the most valuable parts of the employee lifecycle, besides the fact that turnover is generally A. Bad. Thing.

But employees who are leaving have a unique perspective and they’re uniquely placed to be (sometimes brutally!) honest. The feedback you get from exit interviews can be genuinely business-critical. 

A seasonal workforce gives you the opportunity to capitalize, but without the negative connotations of turnover. So make employee offboarding an important touchpoint in your seasonal onboarding journey by actively soliciting honest feedback.  

Onboarding turns short-term hires into long-term assets

 

Onboarding your seasonal employees is just as important as onboarding your permanent hires. If not more so, because you have less time to make an impression and impact their performance and engagement. 

Effective seasonal onboarding means you get more from your seasonal hires, which ultimately means you need fewer of them and save money on recruitment. And you build long-term relationships that can pay dividends for years to come.


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Topics: Onboarding , Reinvent
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