Category Archives: employee retention

Improving Employee Productivity

Getting the best from your seasonal team

When Christmas is an exceptionally busy time for your business this of course presents a huge opportunity for you. But if you’re left with insufficient manpower, or temporary staff who simply aren’t up to the job, this can leave your existing team stretched and unable to meet your normal levels of service.

So, not only do your regulars leave disappointed, but those first-time customers don’t get the fab first impression they need to convert them into returning long term loyal customers.

If you’re taking on extra seasonal staff for the Christmas period (or at any other time of the year), I’m sure you will want them to be as productive as possible, as quickly as possible.

Here are a few ideas, so you avoid them being thrown in at the deep end or not pulling their weight.

Before

Start the induction process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first shift the better their first day’s experience is likely to be and the quicker they’ll be up to speed.

When confirming the job let them know how much you’re looking forward to them coming to work for you and then start with information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome.

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcome pack. This might include:

  • A short personalised welcome letter or card from you, the owner or general manager personally signed.
  • The background to your business, your service culture, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing on their first shift – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particularly important for those who will be working unsociable hours.) This might include information about parking and public transport, even a timetable (download and print).
  • For hospitality, leisure or retail businesses a voucher for them to come and be a customer with you so they can experience things from a customer’s perspective.
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their terms and conditions of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one.
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter.
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first shift.
  • Anything else they might need to know in advance such as time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, health and safety.
  • Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.

Putting all this in a smart folder with their name on it and sending it to them before they start will make them feel more welcome and they are more likely to be looking forward to the first day and getting into their job quickly.

Stay in touch with the new team member, particularly if there is a long lead-in time before they start. This will help to avoid the potential “buyer’s remorse”, and instead help to create a sense of excitement and anticipation.

During

Apart from the obvious outline of the job itself, cover the following:

  1. What we stand for: Define your service culture, what is important to you as a business and what is the type of experience you want your customers to have when they do business with you.
  2. First impressions count.  Customers don’t differentiate between permanent or temporary team members; they expect the same service from everyone. Specify your standards for welcoming and greeting customers, answering the phone. including the ordering and/or booking procedures if this is part of their role.
  3. Help new team members understand your customers’ expectations. Describe your customer profile and what they will be looking for. Why do people come to you rather than your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the key parts of the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible.
  4. How we do things round here.  Every business has its own little routines, habits and traditions.  The sooner new-comers get to know these the sooner they’ll start to feel at home. How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee or their buddy, rather than necessarily coming from you.
  5. Assign a buddy. Assign someone within their team they can go to for day-to-day questions, so they’re not left floundering or too scared to ask for help. This means when they have what they might perceive as being trivial questions they still have someone to turn to rather than the question being left unanswered. Choose your buddies with care, ensuring that they not only know the standards and your expectations, but they are ambassadors for your business and you’re confident they’ll be patient and supportive when asked.
  6. Teamwork is key. Introduce new team members to everyone else in the whole team. Defining everyone’s areas of responsibility so there are no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid any friction that can occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
  7. Play to people’s strengths. When you offered them the position, what were the key things that stood out for you about this person?  Rather than making everyone mediocre at everything, capitalise on the skills and experience this person displays. Consider allocating a specific task or project that they can get stuck into and for which they have some responsibility and ownership. This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.
  8. Provide thorough product knowledge – People can’t sell something they don’t know exists! What does your business offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff sample products and/or services as far as possible, explain what products are normally sold together (e.g. in a restaurant what accompanies each dish) what the price includes and what’s extra. If they have a role in up-selling what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
  9. Establish protocol in dealing with specific situations. Payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed; handling customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling these situations themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member
  10. Help make them feel like family. If your team (temporary or permanent) have to work unsociable hours, long nights or sacrifice personal social lives, be open to flexibility. Recognise that people may be missing out on family and friends’ events, so help make up for this in some way.
  11. Recognise their work. Just like permanent employees, let them know that you see and appreciate their efforts. If they’re there to learn (e.g. a student gaining valuable work experience) they’ll welcome supportive feedback. Schedule short weekly meetings to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed.
  12. This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things we’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.
  13. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.

After

Set yourself up for next year or your next busy period by ensuring your temporary team members remember you in a good light and will want to return or at the very least become an ambassador for your business.

How you treat them afterwards is as important as how you treat them during their time with you, especially if there’s a strong likelihood they may work with you again.

  • Ask for their feedback on their experience so you can learn how to make your business an even more attractive place to work in future.
  • Invite them along to any post season team events. This is not only a good way to say thank you afterwards, but helps embed positive memories of their time with you.
  • Maintain communication so you can continue a conversation with potential talent, giving you the ability to hire fast when you need to. You’ll be more readily able to hire people who are already familiar with your business, (or  who help find others like them), and can easily slip back into the business with little to no extra training.
  • Show them opportunity. Some may be looking to forge long-term careers within your industry. To ensure you’re capturing the best talent, show them the opportunity and growth positions that could arise if they return or stay with your business.

Is all this effort worth it if they’re just a temp?

Absolutely.

Treat them well and you’ll be rewarded with improved employee productivity, a happier more engaged team and employee retention, better customer service, and ultimately create advocates for your business.

Maintain your reputation as a good employer; if you treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand.

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Off to a Flying Start

Earlier this week I spoke at The Horticultural Trades Association Catering Conference on attracting and retaining superstars. Of the 7 key ingredients I discussed one focused on giving new team members the red carpet treatment and creating a positive first impression, so they feel valued and engaged from day one.

In last week’s blog I wrote about the steps you can take to create a sense of anticipation and excitement before new team members even start. This week I’d like to focus on their induction once they are in the job.

It’s all too easy to expect new starters to hit the ground running and throw them in at the deep end. Especially when you’ve been understaffed and are desperate for the new pair of hands.

But this can be counterproductive.

In the same way you might think about your customer experience and how you’d like customers to feel as a result of doing business with you, transfer this principle to your staff.

How would you like this new team member to be feeling at the end of their first day?

Overwhelmed and confused? Frustrated, underutilised and bored? Already questioning that this is the right job for them?

Or enthusiastic, excited, looking forward to making a real contribution to the business, and can’t wait to get into work tomorrow?

Make a plan

People can only remember so much information. Spread the induction over several weeks, and limit what they’ll be covering on the first day to a minimum as there will be a lot for them to take in.

During the induction period involve as many other team members as possible as this is a great way for your new team member to meet others, start to understand how their role fits in with everybody else’s and for them to feel part of that team.

Identify who will be involved with what so there are no overlaps or gaps. Then make sure that everyone involved knows what part they play and schedule time to devote to this. No one wants to feel as if they are an inconvenience and this will do little to make the new team member feel welcome.

Here is a checklist of things to include

Here is a checklist of things to include in your induction, and of course every site and every role is different so ensure you tailor the induction around the job they’ll be doing and where they are going to be working. Plan your inductions well in advance, and schedule what will be happening when.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Here are some key headings, but not necessarily everything under each heading is to be covered in one go. Think about what’s essential for day one, what’s to be covered within the first week, and then space other things over the coming 3 to 4 weeks.

The lay of the land

Show people where they will be working, where they can find things, where they can leave their personal things, where they can take their breaks, where to find key information, resources, and the people they’ll be working with. Point out health and safety needs such as fire evacuation points, first aid kit and any hazardous areas.

The job itself

Although you would have discussed this at the recruitment stage now is the time to go into detail. Let people know exactly what is expected and how this will be measured, how progress will be reviewed and how their role fits in with everybody else’s.

The bigger picture

Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? What are the goals and targets of the business as a whole and how they contribute to this.

Where does their role fit in with everybody else’s? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide?

What we stand for

Think about your purpose, values and culture. What is important to you as a business and what is the type of experience you want your customers to have when they do business with you? Communicate this.   If you have won prestigious awards be proud of these and share what this means and what you need to do to sustain this level.

Customer expectations

Help new team members understand your customers’ expectations. Describe your customer profile and what they will be looking for. Why do people come to you rather you’re your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible; not only for their own department, but all the other services your customers use, starting with your website*.

* This is a great exercise to do with all new starters. As part of their induction ask them to find certain information from your website. They learn about the business, and you can get some feedback on how user-friendly and informative your website is.

How we do things round here

How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee, a sort of buddy, rather than necessarily always coming from you. However if you are going to do that, make sure that the person they are buddied up with knows the standards, knows the expectations, and knows what you want from them.

The law of the land

This is where you cover all contractual parts of their role such as work permits, absence reporting, signing their contract, how and when they get paid. Talk about holiday entitlement and how they go about booking this so there are no later disappointments as late notice holiday requests get turned down.

History and heritage

It’s nice to know a little bit about the background, heritage and key historical facts about your business, but people don’t need every little detail. Home in on what’s relevant, so if for example your building has an interesting history and your customers are interested in this, cover the key points and let them know where they can go for more information if they want to dig deeper.

One of the family

Help new starters to settle in by involving them in team activities in the workplace, and ensuring they get an invitation to any social activities. Let them know who the people are to go to for help and guidance, who are your champions or experts in different areas, who should they turn to when you’re not there.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t expect everyone to be superb in every aspect of the job straightaway. Plan on the job skills training appropriate for the role they are going to do and allow time for them to get up to speed.

Getting stuck in

For new people it can sometimes feel to them as if they are not achieving much in the early days. So consider allocating a specific project that they can get stuck into and for which they have some responsibility and ownership. This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.

Regular reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your new starters for a minimum of the first four weeks to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed. This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things we’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.

So, for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction.  Increase the likelihood that they will want to stay, do the job to the standard you expect, and become a loyal employee, by giving them a thorough planned induction, backed up by the right support and resources to deliver the job well.



Employee Engagement Starts Here

Nearly every business owner I know lists recruiting and retaining good staff high on their list of priorities.

Having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor induction.

The first few days and weeks in any job will determine how that person feels about your business and whether or not this is the place they want to stay and if they’re able to pursue their career here; is this an environment where they can feel happy and get on with their fellow team members? Employee engagement starts here.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. But induction should go far deeper than simply their duties and contractual obligations.

During someone’s first few weeks is also an opportunity for you, as you have a fresh pair of eyes to review your business, to spot things that maybe we’ve become accustomed to, and to come up with new ideas.

Start the induction process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

In your job offer let them know how much you’re looking forward to them coming to work for you and then start with information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome.

Create a Welcome Pack

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcoming pack. This might include:

  • A short personalised welcome letter or card from you, the owner or general manager personally signed.
  • The background to your business, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing in the first week – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Map of the area with local information: banks, useful shops, a park to enjoy during their break. Go to Google Maps and print out.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particular important for those who will be working unsociable hours) This might include information about parking and public transport, even a timetable (download and print).
  • For hospitality, leisure or retail businesses a voucher for them to come and be a customer with you so they can experience things from a customer’s perspective.
  • Vouchers from other local businesses – find those who will be happy to do a reciprocal arrangement (all good for the local community). Make them of real value, and something your staff will care about.
  • Information about social media they can connect to: the Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter and a private Facebook Group for staff if you have one. (And if you don’t now might be a good time to think about one!)
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their contract of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter
  • An invitation to any events happening between now and when they start
  • A copy of their induction programme and their point of contact for day one
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first day

Putting all this in a smart folder with their name on it and sending it to them before they start will make them feel more welcome and they are more likely to be looking forward to the first day and getting into their job quickly.

You could also put this information online and give them the url to access it (or in a pdf you send to them), so you can embed links to access useful local information and all your social media pages.

So, once they start what needs to be covered in that induction to get them off to a flying start?

Next week I’ll share a handy checklist for creating your own induction programmes.

I’ll also be talking about this at the HTA catering conference next week, so if you happen to be there, I’ll see you then!



Fresh Focus

FocusDay 4 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

4. Fresh Focus

Time off often gives people time for reflection and can prompt them to start thinking about other options, career moves or even career changes.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team so they involved, and ask for their input so you give them confidence in the part they have to play, and so you avoid any feelings of insecurity.

Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans for the year ahead.

Encourage everyone in your team to have their own goals too. Even if these don’t include working for you long term, discuss how you can help them achieve their goals together.