Training Temporary Staff into Company Assets

How you train temporary staff determines how effective they are.

Whether it’s the large department store wanting to avoid customer meltdown over the Christmas period or the amusement park needing ride operators during the summer months, temporary staff are a hot commodity. Third Sector organisations (TSOs) such as charities, self-help groups and membership associations also rely heavily on temporary workers. It’s not always possible to ‘cherry pick’ from a large batch of applications, so if the new workers aren’t ideal, how can training temporary staff produce amazing employees?

Don’t Assume

Don’t think of your temporary staff as temporary. Psychologically that can have a demotivating effect on an employee: “Well, I’m only seasonal so who cares?” You should. The more you invest in the person, the more they will try to live up (or down) to your expectations. Another point to not labelling them as temporary is that there’s always the chance they may become permanent. And the way to groom ideal employees is through training.

First Things First

Ensure that you or a line manager takes the time to get to know the new starter. They should be given some background on the company, what the key values are and what it does well. Introduce them to colleagues, particularly anyone they’ll report to. Make it clear what the hours are and break times. Be clear on guidance concerning attire, customer service and personal mobile phone use. One of the biggest excuses is, “Nobody told me.” Everything should be in written form and explained verbally. If language is an issue, have an interpreter present. Health and safety information is essential and compliance training should be tailored to the job – not blanket dos and don’ts.

Job Training

While training temporary staff may be partly ‘hands on’, everything else can be delivered via an e-learning portal. Depending on which LMS you choose, this could allow your staff the flexibility of learning anytime anywhere, using their own devices. Some platforms even have mobile apps, making it possible to continue training when offline.  Employees are far more likely to engage with and complete bitesize chunks of learning, so keep the length manageable. Training managers should be able to see at a glance when modules are completed and the performance level attained.

If you want to maximise engagement, the modules should be relevant, use multimedia and be interactive (quizzes, questionnaires, etc). As it’s claimed we are now mainly a society of visual learners, the content needs to be visually striking and chiefly comprised of short videos (< six minutes) as well as infographics.The problem many organisations face is that while they may have excellent training managers, they often lack the skills for creating quality content. As it’s likely that many companies and associations need temporary staff on a regular basis, it would pay to outsource expert content creation, which could be used year after year, with updating as required.

Apart from online training, it’s also beneficial to assign a mentor. Having someone to emulate and from whom they can seek advice, always makes the induction process easier.

Win-win

Apart from equipping your temporary staff with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their required tasks to a high level, training is a powerful motivator, which can maximise productivity and help to improve your organisation’s performance. That may persuade you to ask at least some of your seasonal workers to stay a bit longer.