6 Ways to motivate seasonal staff

Your visitors will never be happier than your employees.

Ponder that!  Seasonal staff are thrown in at the busiest time of year and expected to perform at the highest level.  When your business is at its busiest, you need your team to be a top performing team.  Motivation directly affects performance, productivity, the work environment and, ultimately, the visitor experience.  

Motivation & Performance

Seasonal and part-time staff are a critically important part of the tourism team.  If you hire the wrong people, you will lose business.  If you manage them wrongly, you will end up with all those problems that are associated with low morale.   In reality, managing seasonal staff is no different to managing year-round team members.  However, because of the temporary nature of seasonal employment, these team members may naturally feel dis-invested and disengaged in their work.

6 Ways to Motivate

What are the ways in which you can motivated your seasonal team members, enhance their experience of working with you and improve overall business performance?

1.     Training:

Train seasonal staff comprehensively at the beginning. Don’t leave it there though - follow it up with bite-sized nuggets of training at regular intervals.  Many businesses front-load the training into an ‘induction programme’ and then let the new recruit off to implement all they’ve just learned.  This is a common pitfall for two reasons.  Firstly, they have not further growth of development training to look forward to.  Secondly, it’s pretty much impossible to absorb all the information that is presented to them in front-loaded inductions.  Best to give them enough to get started at the beginning and then schedule regular, bite-sized training throughout the season thereafter. 

2.     Goals:

Clearly state your expectations and set a target for them to achieve.  Have the same performance expectations of your seasonal staff as you have for your year-round staff.  This creates a better team environment. Most importantly, having a goal and then achieving it is highly motivational.  It makes us feel accomplished. 

3.     Inclusion:

Include seasonal staff in team meetings.  It’s surprising how little this happens. A morning huddle or start-of-shift team huddle is a brilliant way to include seasonal staff and ensure both regular and seasonal staff know how significant they are to the overall business.  If there are staff nights out or company events, make sure the seasonal team are invited along.

4.     Reward:

Do something tangible to let them know they’re important.  You could buy a coffee, give a small free gift, or offer a discount.  Show them that you care in a way that means something to them.   If you don’t care about them, they won’t care about your business. 

5.    Recognition:

Calling somebody by their first name or remembering something about them builds trust, respect and motivation.  A very important aspect is that recognition works best (and maybe only works at all) if it is given to an individual rather than a group.  A blanket, end-of-the-day ‘Thank You’ to the whole team doesn’t help motivation. In fact, it may de-motivate the highest performers who feel that everyone gets the same recognition, irrespective of effort or results.  To be effective, thanks and recognition must be specific to a person and a situation – it must be personal and sincerely meant.

6.     Managers:

How you or your managers handle seasonal employees has been shown to have the most impact on motivation.  Make sure senior managers are trained in managing seasonal staff. Gallup has reported that over 70 percent of the variance in engagement is tied to the manager.  The root causes of feeling stressed and overwork aren’t to do with the numbers of visitors but the influence the manager has on the work environment

Benefits of motivated staff

In reality, the same principles of motivation apply to seasonal staff members as to regular staff members.  The same benefits also apply.

Motivated team members have less accidents, are more productive, have fewer sick days and are more punctual.  They are more likely to return to you in future seasons and to refer others to work with you.  They add to your employer brand and employer reputation and act as ambassadors for your business in the workplace.  If treated well, their friends and family in the local community will be positively disposed towards your business.  This in turn generates referrals to your business.

I noticed an interesting definition for an ‘engaged employee’ recently: “One who is emotionally committed to their employer” (Kevin Kruse, Forbes).  Team members who are emotionally committed develop loyalty and become ambassadors of and champions for your business. Those who aren’t, don’t.

Long days and demanding visitors take a toll on everyone’s motivation.  Mind motivation!