Engaging temporary workers

Published: 21/12/2021
Author: Vidatec

At busy times of the year, whether it’s the festive period, during the summer holidays or perhaps when there is a packed calendar of events and projects to navigate, a lot of large businesses need to lean on short-term or seasonal workers to help manage the increased workloads. This is particularly relevant in the retail, leisure, hospitality and grocery sectors, but could also apply to any business that experiences fluctuations in demand over the year. Equally, employees on temporary contracts may also include those brought in to cover for maternity or paternity leave, for sabbaticals, or even for those on extended sick leave.

These short-term workers can make up a significant portion of a workforce, but how can businesses keep them engaged when their entire job role has an outlined expiration date?

HR departments are already working hard to create and maintain a strong company culture for their full-time members of staff in many different forms, so the answer is to make sure that those messages and initiatives can be easily extended to reach a wider audience when needed. After all, can a business really afford the cost of badly motivated and disengaged employees, even just on a temporary basis?

Making sure that the experience of temporary workers is a positive one is all the more important when you consider that employing temporary workers is often an important strategy in finding talent. Good workers could be encouraged to stay on in a permanent position once their contract is up, or they could be reliably called upon again the following season, but only if they have enjoyed their time with a company. Fail to do that and you may instead find that you have to recruit and train new short-term employees every single time a busy season comes back around.

Lack of applicants

The knock-on effects of multiple lockdowns and Brexit are still unravelling, but one impact that is clear to see is the sheer lack of job candidates with a 11.4% drop in EU workers looking for UK employment. We already know the problems this has caused the fleet and haulage industry with petrol and food shortages continuing to make the news. This is exactly why it’s never been more important for companies to look after the wellbeing of their short-term staff – replacing them might be much harder than expected.

millennial businessman and businesswoman feeling confused and frustrated in office

Introducing more digitised elements in the delivery of employee engagement programmes is one sure way to widen their appeal, making them more agile, accessible and inclusive for all staff. This is achieved by removing many of the barriers to entry, from limits on time to implement or difficulties in reaching a large and dispersed workforce with consistent messages on culture and values.

By having a digital-first approach to employee engagement, companies can begin to build a bond between the employee and a company’s culture, giving temporary workers a sense of belonging, right from the beginning of that working relationship. While they might not be there for the long haul, they should still be made to feel a part of the team so that they can be encouraged to want to contribute to the business’s success. By being proactive in ensuring that the company culture is extended to include temporary staff, organisations have a higher chance not only of getting the best out of them while they are there, but also retaining them on an annual or even full-time basis.

Levels of service

If the past year has taught us anything about business, it’s that customer service matters. What businesses have to consider is that customers don’t care whether your employees have been there for ten years or ten minutes – that individual is a representative of the business and customers will expect a consistent level of service.

If the past year has taught us anything about business, it’s that customer service matters.

Now a common problem with short-contracted staff is that time is so limited to onboard and train them up properly. This is to the detriment of both the employee and employer as the employee cannot do their job to their full potential and employers can potentially lose customers over a bad experience with an employee that hasn’t received the proper training.

Part of having a strong company culture is creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable enough to share genuine thoughts and opinions. This in turn can create a much more thorough onboarding process that is informed by those who have already been through it. Digital platforms are a great tool to support HR departments in this endeavour. Bringing the learning experience to life with a multimedia experience that is available at any time, for example,  is a great way to provide new employees with an engaging resource that they can continually revisit whenever they need to.

By delivering more employee engagement initiatives via a digital platform that can be accessed and used just as easily by short-term workers as it is by permanent staff, building a cohesive and effective company culture for all, businesses will be far better equipped to manage staff over the busy or seasonal periods.