Holiday and temporary workers are vital to many businesses. Try these techniques to encourage your top seasonal employees to return each year.
Here's what you need to know:
- To keep seasonal employees happy and coming back, show your appreciation to them all year long
- Offer bonuses, special benefits, and other incentives
- Create a referral program for seasonal talent and offer flexible scheduling
- Make room for advancement for temporary workers and ask them to return at the end of the season
- Survey your seasonal employees to determine what they want and need
Halloween has come and gone. This means Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the rest of the seasonal holidays are right around the corner.
Seasonal employees are what keep many businesses in business. This is true not only during the busiest time of their years but all year-round, too. For businesses that rely on major sales during the holiday season, seasonal workers are absolutely critical.
The best you can hope for are stellar seasonal employees who keep coming back year after year. This way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time sourcing, hiring, and training new seasonal employees. If you have return seasonal employees, they’re ready to hop right back in each year without skipping a beat.
So, how do you get to this coveted position of having standout seasonal employees who come back to work for you each year? You make sure they’re happy and that coming back is worth it.
Sure, that makes sense. But how do you actually go about doing that? Here’s how to keep seasonal employees happy and coming back.
Show your appreciation to seasonal workers all year long
This might seem small and simple, but seasonal employees are often overlooked when it comes to appreciation efforts. While many employers might thank their seasonal employees at the end of the season, going above and beyond is the way to stand out among the other businesses competing for their efforts.
One thing you can consider doing is throwing an appreciation event for your employees at the end of the busy holiday season. Naturally, this should include your seasonal employees. Then, at the event, offer a special thank you to your seasonal employees.
But don’t just offer them general gratitude. Keep a list of the times your seasonal employees went above and beyond and thank them for it publicly.
This isn’t the only time you should be including your seasonal employees in your appreciation efforts. Invite them to company picnics in the summer. Send them holiday cards even if your busy season is the summer.
Make sure that they know you appreciate them all year. You’ll be top of mind when it comes to their selection for this year’s seasonal employment — and the next, and the next, and the next.
Offer bonuses and other incentives to seasonal employees
Bonuses and financial compensation are 2 of the main factors that keep employees coming back to any given organization. So, as much as you can, offer monetary bonuses. After all, these are the people that are behind your major holiday sales in the first place.
But even if you can’t offer monetary bonuses, consider the other ways that you can show (rather than just say) your appreciation. Give them gift cards at the end of the season for a job well done.
Give them year-round discounts on the products or services your company sells. If you can, give them discounts on benefits like health insurance if that’s something you’re able to swing.
Give seasonal workers special benefits
Realistically, unless you’re a Fortune 500 company with plenty of money, you probably can’t afford to add seasonal employees to your health benefits. So, get creative with the benefits you do offer them. Consider offering some of these perks:
- Let them bring their dog to work. Is your business pet-friendly? Bringing Fido to work is a benefit for most pet owners.
- Consider adding on-site childcare. Making on-site childcare a year-round benefit can come with steep costs, but those costs shrink when you’re doing it for just a month or 2. Plus, making it easier for employees to handle childcare is a major benefit that’s likely going to lead to more talented applicants than you can hire.
- Cater lunch. Not only does this cut costs for your employees, it’s 1 less thing they have to worry about every day. Plus, if your seasonal workers are deciding between a company that provides lunch every day and 1 that doesn’t, which do you think they’re likely to choose?
- Offer educational opportunities. While it might not make sense to fully cover the cost of college tuition for all of your seasonal employees, what’s stopping you from covering the cost of a community college or online course? Especially if you’re looking at your seasonal talent pool as potential part-time and full-time employees, investing in their development makes plenty of sense.
Create a referral program for seasonal talent
Who doesn’t love working with their friends, and getting paid for it, too? Set up a referral program so that your seasonal talent can identify other seasonal talent. Then offer cash bonuses for every successful referral.
If someone has a van-life buddy who they hang out with the rest of the year, it’ll make it even more enticing for them to come back to your company each season if they’re working with their friend.
Offer flexible scheduling to seasonal employees
The expectation for seasonal employees is often that they should come ready to work whenever they’re needed throughout the entire busy season. But seasonal employees are people, too. They have lives that present challenges and hiccups that need addressing. They get sick, too.
They’re also living through the social chaos of the holidays like everyone else. They need flexibility, too.
As much as possible, honor requests for days off and give employees the shifts that work best for them. Write up the schedule as far in advance as you can so that everyone has time to prepare, swap shifts, and find replacements if necessary.
The effort you put in to accommodate their needs shows that you appreciate the effort they put in to get your business through its busy season.
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Make room for advancement for seasonal workers
Some temporary seasonal employees absolutely want to stay that way. There are plenty of people who prefer more nomadic lifestyles and an endless stream of high school and college students who are looking for anything but commitment.
But seasonal employees aren’t a monolith. Some are in the market for a more permanent career, so let seasonal employment be the pathway they want it to be.
This will often mean thinking outside the box, but there are plenty of benefits to that. Perhaps a seasonal employee doesn’t have the right educational “requirements,” but they clearly demonstrate the skills that you need.
Some seasonal workers are in the market for a more permanent career, so let seasonal employment be the pathway they want it to be.
See your seasonal employees as the talent pool that they are. Create opportunities for advancement from seasonal into part-time and full-time positions. Offer mentorship and coaching opportunities so that your seasonal employees get more than just a paycheck out of their time with you.
Ask seasonal employees to return at the end of the season
It can be as simple as that! Make it clear to your standout employees that you’ll absolutely have positions for them next year if they want to come back. A little job security can go a long way, even for seasonal employees.
Offer them flexible start and end dates if you can. Getting your standouts to come back is well worth the scheduling effort.
These are just a few ideas for how to keep seasonal employees happy and coming back year after year. The key is to uncover what, exactly, your unique crop of seasonal employees want and need.
So, survey them! Find out what’s important to them and where you can do better. The more you show that you care, the more willing your employees will be to help you figure it out.