Training a holiday seasonal workforce


Providing a customer experience that wows customers is difficult enough. Then add the stress and business of holidays along with a temporary workforce, and the task can seem nearly impossible. However, short time frames and high demands make it critical for organisations to get this training step right, explains ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar.

Fortunately, there are steps any organisation can take to ensure a temporary workforce is mobilised and trained to meet rising consumer expectations.

Build the culture

Training a workforce – especially temporary employees – begins long before teaching them the mechanics and procedures of the role. “Culture is one of the most important influences on all employees, including new hires that step into the role”, explains van den Barselaar. From day one, a culture that emphasises customer experience will help shape employees into a workforce that delivers.

Work on developing the culture over the long term, and the short term will often take care of itself.

Leverage technology training

When time is of the essence, it’s not always possible to train everyone together; and this is where technology can come in and reach multiple workers on a flexible schedule through online training. Online training can also deepen classroom learning.

Social media chat forums allow real-time peer discussions to address challenges, for example. E-learning, videos, and gamification are all options for engaging workers. “All of this ensures that learning can take place anywhere, anytime – and in time for the holidays,” says van den Barselaar.

Train on soft skills

The interpersonal touch is never more important than during times of high stress, such as the holidays. Training temporary workers on soft skills is as important, if not more critical, as anything when it comes to successfully taking on a role. “Training workers on soft skills starts with specific, measurable goals that can hold them accountable,” van den Barselaar notes.

Make use of mentors

Mentorship is effective as part of a training regime, and will give the temporary staff a chance to gain hands on experience while being able to ask questions and raise concerns. Make use of full time staff as mentors, even if only over one or two days, to give the mentees proper insight into what they can expect and how they should handle the role.

For any organisation with temporary holiday employees, there is also long-term value for training this segment. The seasonal opportunities may be a start toward a longer-term role for those who can parlay the opportunity. “Taking the right steps to train will pay off for the organisation in the long run, and should become a priority sooner rather than later,” concludes van den Barselaar.