3 Ways Your Onboarding Isn’t Setting Seasonal Hires Up for Success
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a crop of talented seasonal employees received job offers from your competitors. And that means the highly coveted pool of seasonal retail talent just got even smaller — a situation that’s only intensifying as the U.S. unemployment rate continues to hover around a near-historic low of 3.7 percent.
It’s no surprise that many retailers are trying to get ahead of talent shortage by hiring for the holidays earlier. Kohl’s started staffing seasonal positions for 500 stores in mid-July. That’s double the number of locations it hired vs. last year. And Target announced in mid-September that it would hire more than 130,000 temporary workers for the holidays. To attract the best and brightest from a seasonal talent pool that’s becoming more kiddie-sized each day, retailers are under pressure to increase hourly pay, with many also offering additional perks, from casual dress codes and discounts to signing bonuses and gym memberships. While these strategies can work for attracting quality associates, keeping them engaged and productive is another matter entirely. The famously high turnover rates in retail are even higher among part-time hourly store workers, and it hits your bottom line pretty hard when they leave. Retailers can expect to pay 16 percent of annual salary to replace an associate, which means it costs over $3,000 to replace an associate earning $10 an hour.
Is Your Onboarding Overwhelming?
With talent pool pressures, retailers can be forgiven for being hyperfocused on strategies for getting the right seasonal talent hired. However, getting these new hires up to speed quickly, in a way that makes them confident and productive out on the floor, is critical to a successful holiday season. And that means taking a hard look at your onboarding plan. Here are three signs your employee onboarding isn’t setting your seasonal hires up for success:
- It dumps too much information on associates at once. "Firehosing" associates with the universe of things they could possibly need to know is a surefire way to make them feel overwhelmed (and they're going to forget most of it anyway if the learning isn’t reinforced). Instead, your onboarding should focus on the critical things they need to know to start performing immediately.
- It has hard stop and end dates. An abrupt halt to training can make associates feel like you’re throwing them into the deep end, and that puts them at higher risk for leaving at the time of year when it’s most disruptive to your operations. Therefore, why not make onboarding continuous? Reinforcing top things they need to remember each shift boosts confidence and engagement. Furthermore, ongoing training doesn’t have to involve pulling them off the floor to participate in long sessions. Weaving bite-sized chunks of learning into the workflow for just a few minutes a shift makes it easier to access and remember long term.
- It treats everyone the same. An associate who has been taking on seasonal hiring gigs for 10 years has different knowledge and capabilities than a newbie who is doing it for the first time. Of course, there will always be things everyone needs to be trained on (like your culture and products), but beyond the mandatories, your onboarding should take their individual training needs into consideration and adapt accordingly to get everyone performing their best, faster.
This era of fierce competition for seasonal talent makes the impression your onboarding leaves more critical than ever. Adopting a continuous onboarding strategy makes your operations run more smoothly by taking seasonal hires from seasonal to seasoned, fast. More importantly, it puts you in the power position of providing an engaging, positive experience that makes seasonal hires want to come back and work with you again next holiday season.
Carol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify Inc., a disruptor in the corporate learning space and innovator behind the Axonify Microlearning Platform, proven to increase employee knowledge and performance necessary for achieving targeted business results.