‘Tis The Season To Engage

Staff Training

With Christmas on the horizon, Argos is one of the first retailers to announce its plans to recruit around 10,000 seasonal workers. And it won’t be the last. Hiring extra support for the busiest shopping period of the year can be a challenge, but so can motivating and engaging these temporary staff members who may not feel fully integrated into the company.

Research has shown that the most productive employees are the ones who have the highest level of engagement with their jobs and the culture of their organisations. Managers often make the mistake of assuming that engagement is not important for short-term workers and they become reluctant to spend time and money on employees whose contracts end at the start of the New Year.

Although seasonal contracts generally only last for short periods, there is potential for jobs to become permanent if vacancies are available after the holiday season. Take Amazon for example, last year the online retail giant hired 10,000 temporary employees and offered permanent roles to 1,000 of them.

Training has an integral part to play in showing temporary employees that they are really valued for their contribution to the company. For instance, the use of technology has completely transformed the cost, delivery and range of training available.

E-learning offers high quality, on-the-job, bite sized and modular training that can be undertaken anytime and anywhere. Rather than sitting through a long video about health and safety, for example, employees can look at a module that focuses purely on fire hazards if that is what they need to know about.

Training and engaging temporary employees also ensures that they feel valued which is crucial for businesses. When customers come into a shop looking for expert advice they won’t care about whether the shop assistant they speak to is a temporary or permanent member of staff, they will still expect the same standard of knowledge about the product they are looking for.

In order to ensure good service and repeat business, retailers need to ensure their seasonal workers are as well educated about their stock as those who have worked at the outlet for years.

Ultimately, a business would not survive without driven individuals, so it is vital that organisations get the most out of all their staff and give everyone an opportunity to hone their skills. This investment in staff training and development will also foster company loyalty and a willingness to help the retailer succeed and grow.

Keeping staff engaged is a difficult task for any employer. But for those who get it right, the benefits are plentiful: an engaged team that feels valued and a prosperous business that is reinforced by a skilled and talented workforce.

Taking the time to ensure that seasonal workers are engaged in the business can work wonders for both reputation and future success. Employees leave feeling satisfied, valued and happy with their time at the organisation and, as a result, are more likely to consider returning to the company or recommending it to a friend should an opportunity arise.

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Kevin Young

Kevin Young is Managing Director, EMEA, SkillSoft. Kevin has 20 years experience in the IT industry, 14 of which have been in the technology-based training sector. Before joining SkillSoft, Young headed up CBT Systems UK operations, managing a team of more than 40. Between 1990 and 1998 Young held a series of sales/senior management positions with NETg International. He established the UK Strategic Account Group in 1995 and was directly involved in signing the largest-ever UK technology-based training agreement, valued at $10 million over five years. From 1997 to 1998 Young was based in Australia, tasked with setting up NETg's AsiaPacific/Japanese operations. With a small team he grew the revenue base significantly, through the effective application of a direct and channel-based sales operation. Kevin has a BSc(Hons) in plant biology and geography from Newcastle University and was an associate member of the Institute of Personnel Management.