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Happy Holiday Employees

December 2, 1999
Related Topics: Contingent Staffing, Featured Article
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Pair up the final holiday shopping season of the century with a strong economy, and what do you get? Holiday spending of millennial proportions.

Retailers are kicking their hiring efforts into high gear to handle the expected volume increase. But, employers need more than just any warm body to make their customers happy this holiday season, according to Keith Halperin, senior vice president with Personnel Decisions International, a global management and human resources consulting firm. They need satisfied employees who work hard and represent the organization well.

"These temporary employees are critical to the success of the enterprise," says Halperin. "They are on the front line and, to the customer, they are not just temporary employees—they are the company."

Employee satisfaction leads to peak job performance and a positive attitude. To help seasonal employees feel more satisfied in their jobs, Halperin suggests that employers integrate employees into the company’s culture and instill personal ownership and pride in the organization. He offers three tips to integrate temporary employees under tight time constraints:

  1. Provide a broad orientation.
    Along with information about how to punch the clock and where to pick up a paycheck, provide a "culture dip." Seasonal folks feel more committed and part of the team when they understand the organization’s culture and heritage, what the organization stands for and how it operates. Share stories that make up the unique company culture, as well as any internal slogans or buzzwords.
  2. Implement a "buddy" system.
    To the extent possible, pair up each seasonal employee with a full-time employee "buddy" who serves as a friend and a resource. Not only will this help the seasonal employee feel part of the company, it will also provide him or her with a person to answer those important, immediate questions. Choose a buddy who is excited about his or her work in the organization and who models behavior the employer likes to see. But, be careful not to overburden buddies.
  3. Let the seasonal worker focus on one specific area.
    If possible, avoid shifting seasonal employees from post to post as floaters. Increased knowledge in a particular area will help the employee feel more familiar with the products and services he or she represents and be more effective in the job.

Halperin says increased employee satisfaction not only results in improved work performance and dedication to the seasonal job, it also leads to employee retention.

"It’s wise for employers to think of these people as more than one-time-only seasonal employees," says Halperin. "View them as potential ‘permanent seasonal employees,’ who may come back for two or more seasons if they’re satisfied with the experience. That will definitely make the employer’s holiday season a little happier."

SOURCE: Personnel Decisions International, Minneapolis, November 1999.

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