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Tips for Training a Seasonal Workforce

Zimmermädchen im Hotel mit ReinigungswagenIt’s true that seasonal employees may only be with you for seventy-five days or so, but does that make their training any less important?  Hopefully your answer to that question was an assertive “No!”     No matter how long their employment with your company, it’s important to remember that they still require training, just like every other employee.

Proper training incorporates a culmination of company culture, technical skills, and social integration.  The company culture component can be communicated through the sharing of company policies, procedures and values.  Simply stated, it’s who you are, what you do, and how and why you do it.   Social integration ties into this, in that your seasonal employees need to feel like they are part of the team.

Technical Skills refer to the expertise needed to perform the job.   If your company has a competency profile or job description, that’s a great place to start.  Keep in mind however, there is no need to train every seasonal employee on every aspect of the job, necessarily.  Your seasonal workforce is there to accomplish the task at hand – whether that be wait tables, change over hotel rooms, or conduct facility tours – so focus your training on that task rather than trying to train all of your seasonal hires on everything they may have to do.  The key is to make sure your employees have the right tools (e.g., knowledge, protocols, equipment) to provide your customers with an exceptional experience.

But, what is ‘an exceptional experience,’ you might ask?  Good question and one that leads to my next tip:  Setting the Right Expectations.  Once your new hires have learned what they need to do, they next need to know how well they are expected to do it.  Communicating expectations is crucial in managing a seasonal workforce.  Using work samples from your star employees as the benchmark, set the bar high with your seasonal workers and then with the assistance of your entire team help them to surpass it.   Setting the right expectations should also include an aspect of time management.

Indeed, time and attendance is something you’d keep an eye on with all of your employees, but seasonal employees’ time needs to be carefully managed.  In most cases, seasonal employment lasts a couple of months so if those employees are constantly running late, taking long breaks, leaving early, or missing shifts, they really aren’t serving your purpose in hiring them in the first place.

The beauty of a seasonal workforce is that they provide you with much needed functional flexibility during high-traffic times without any real expectation of a long-term commitment.  That being said, if you hire a seasonal employee that nailed the training, excels technically, and is very conscientiousness, you’ve found a real gem and one that might be worth keeping after the season ends.

Tags: competency-based learning, performance standards, skills development, training