How to Scale Down Successfully After Your Busiest Seasons
What goes up must come down, including seasonal employment fluctuations. Despite this reality, many businesses forget to address the scaling-down process. That’s a serious misstep that can tarnish brand reputations and leave former employees with bad feelings.
What contributes to those errors? For one, some companies aren’t transparent about possible end dates with their temporary workers. When the time comes, managers suddenly announce, “Today’s your last day,” which isn’t a recipe for exceptional employee communication.
Another miscue is disregarding how a strong final impression can pay off and reduce high seasonal employee turnover. When companies ensure a solid end-to-end employee experience, it resonates with superstar associates and makes them more likely to return or recommend you to their social circles.
If you’ve never given thought to your own scale-downs, now is the time to do so. The following can strengthen your relationships with temporary associates and make it easier to bring them and other talented performers aboard.
1. Create standard operating procedures for scale-down meetings.
Consistent communications should be part of every scale-down meeting. Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) and straightforward scripts ensures that everyone hears the same thing every time. Additionally, managers don’t have to reinvent the wheel when presenting information conversationally and empathetically.
Other communication products that can be pulled together well ahead of a planned scale-down include end-of-assignment FAQs, a thank-you note from corporate leaders, and related essential documentation. Remember, about 80 percent of employees told Dynamic Signal they were stressed and disengaged due to poor communication. You can’t afford to let your associates down on a sour note.
2. Show compassion during the lack-of-work conversation.
Even temporary associates who are aware of their status from day one may get emotional during the lack-of-work (LOW) conversation — whether it’s in person or via Zoom. Supervisors can improve this difficult experience by having someone from Human Resources involved. This team can keep the dialogue on track and intervene if the manager has difficulty being a leader-coach.
These aren’t just theoretical issues, either. Case in point: One of our clients habitually let associates go due to a lack of work without notice. Associates were told to go home, and they ended up becoming brand detractors. This client learned that the way to reverse any damage was to implement a more people-first strategy.
Above all else, managers should remain empathetic while retaining an air of professionalism. And they shouldn’t place blame during LOW meetings with associates — they should listen with compassion while staying true to the pre-arranged SOP script.
3. Anticipate associates’ financial concerns.
LOW employees often worry about their final paychecks. Coordinate with payroll so employees know their last pay dates, severance pay, and who to call with questions.
You may also want to learn about state and locality requirements for employee terminations. Some places require same-day pay, which payroll needs to understand sooner rather than later.
Don’t forget that sometimes an unexpected windfall can sweeten the experience. One of our clients decided to pay LOW associates an extra $100 bonus because the assignment ended earlier than expected. The company worked with payroll in advance to make sure everything ran smoothly, right down to the tax withholding.
Scaling up can feel exciting because it means you’re heading into a busy season. Just don’t forget to map out your scale-down process carefully. The better the scale-down experience, the happier your associates will be — and that’s good for business.
Megan Couch is the chief experience officer at Integrity Staffing, the engine of opportunity for job seekers across the United States.