The Christmas Chef: 5 Tips To Get The Best Out Of Your Temporary Seasonal Staff
Christmas is a busy time for everyone, and often that means hiring temporary seasonal staff. No one needs an extra headache this year – the eggnog and brandy usually takes care of that – so ensuring the staffing process goes smoothly is paramount to a happy festive season for you, your customers, and your permanent employees.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when looking for seasonal talent for the holiday rush:
1. Be clear about your expectations for seasonal staff
If you are hiring temporary employees, be clear about the seasonal nature of the event to ensure it’s a mutually beneficial relationship – the last thing you want in early January is to be having difficult conversations with diligent team members who were expecting a smooth transition to something more long term.
When you do hire, look for the kind of person who can jump right in for four or six weeks and keep a positive attitude throughout the season – someone who thrives on being busy, and will add fresh energy to your existing team.
2. Work the staff’s needs into the schedule
Before you set the schedule in stone, get a good idea of each worker’s preferences for the Christmas holidays. Not everyone wants to spend the day with family, but others will. Travel may eat up several days for them, or they might have another holiday tradition later or earlier than December 25th they’d prefer celebrating. Never make assumptions, especially when it comes to religious holidays.
Being accommodating comes with a lot of positives: it helps create a pleasant workplace, makes scheduling fair and gives you a good idea of who prefers to pick up extra shifts and who needs time off.
You’ll be surprised at how much a simple request system will help. Allowing staff to feel as if they won’t be penalised for taking the days they need, while freeing up those days to be worked by others who need the money, will boost morale.
3. Treat current and seasonal staff equally
While some of your staff may be temporary, it’s important not to treat them as second-class citizens.
Everyone should feel like an equal part of the team – because at the end of the day, everyone is working toward the same goal: a successful Christmas period.
Likewise, you’ll never know the true reasons someone has to work over Christmas. It might not always be a choice – and their personal, financial or other circumstances may be weighing heavily on your temporary workers this time of year. This season, more than any other, focus on camaraderie and letting them know that, even if you aren’t in a position to offer full-time employment, they’ll be welcome again next year.
Get to know them, introduce them to the team and make them feel as welcome as any other, more permanent member of staff.
4. Plan for the holiday season early and thoroughly
Careful, deliberate advance planning helps keep your Christmas period team invested and motivated. Focus on these three areas:
Training: Based on the number of positions you need to fill and the level of experience of new hires, you can determine the exact amount of time you need for training new seasonal staff.
Scheduling: Once you’ve built the schedule, send it out early. This helps the team plan their Christmas period schedule around it.
Planning: Prepare for the worst by planning for when an employee doesn’t show up on a busy day, so it has little detrimental effect if it actually happens.
5. Show your appreciation
The Christmas season comes with a lot of headaches, as anyone in foodservice knows. Show your team you appreciate their efforts by offering lots of positive feedback, giving small gifts, throwing a party (after the rush is over) or even giving them a day off.
Heap on praise where it’s deserved, and nothing but the most constructive criticism when it’s not. Remember that temporary workers may be trying to enter the workforce after months or years of absence, or trying to change career, so be sure to give them a glowing reference (if deserved) when they ask for it.
On the bottom line, simply putting yourself in your temporary worker’s shoes will solve most issues. If someone isn’t performing as expected, or appearing to struggle, take them aside at a quiet moment – if possible – and just ask what’s wrong. Treat the seasonal staff as people, first and foremost, and you can’t go wrong.