How technology can ease the workload when it comes to on-boarding temporary staff during the festive period

Dr. Cristian Grossmann, CEO and Co-Founder of Beekeeper, looks at how retailers can better manage the tricky task of temporary staff during the busiest period of the year with technology. 

It’s no secret November and December are crucial months in retail as Black Friday, Christmas, and Boxing Day sales all take place presenting major business opportunities. Typically retailers will take on a good amount of temporary staff to cover this period to handle the additional demand, but when the size of a retailer’s staff suddenly balloons, it can create chaos when it comes to organising everyone’s shift schedules.

For senior management it’s a tough balance between dealing with a sudden influx of sales, managing more stock, and working longer hours along with training and on-boarding new staff, many of whom have no experience with the company’s procedures. 

Getting everyone on board at once 

One of the biggest challenges for retailers during the festive season is on-boarding all of the new team members in a short period of time. It’s easy to forget that even though the staff are temporary, managers will still need to invest time and resources getting them up to speed. 

This starts with basic on-boarding information such as where to clock in, where to store personal belongings, handing out uniforms, where to park, and where shift schedules can be accessed. And this is all before they’ve been trained on the till or shown where the stock is kept. 

With increasing pressures on their time, HR and senior management needs to find a solution that supports both them and their new employees during this on-boarding period. If they don’t, it can waste valuable time and lead to errors. 

How can technology help? 

Many retailers will invest heavily in technology that aids ecommerce, or multichannel retail and customer experience, however, many are neglecting to effectively use these channels for staff. This is where a solid digital communications platform can make the difference. 

For the majority of retail staff, they’re out on the floor dealing with customers, taking money, and managing stock, so often at times they don’t have access to traditional desktop communication tools. 

Offering your retail employees a communication platform that can be accessed via a mobile app is a real game changer as it means employees, both permanent and seasonal, can access all the training materials and information they need, right from their mobile device.

When it comes to on-boarding new employees, an employee communications app can be incredibly valuable. There is no longer a need to go through traditional, in-person on-boarding, as it can be very time consuming. Instead new hires can access their training resources on the app.  If they’re still unsure, they can ask a question, either in a direct message or an open thread, and receive a swift response. 

Now you’re all on-board 

Digital platforms can extend beyond providing new hire information to offering employees health and safety guidelines, customer complaint procedures, and training guides. 

There is also the ability to host shift schedules in an accessible format. During the chaotic festive season, communicating shift information to employees can be labour intensive and inefficient if handled in a traditional manner such as a notice board. Hosting shifts on the app means workers can view them instantly, whether in or out of the workplace, and flag any issues by messaging management. 

Welcoming your new team members 

Welcoming seasonal team members and getting them properly trained is now easier than ever with mobile technology. It’s important for companies to make seasonal staff feel like they’re part of the team and happy in the workplace. 

A communications app isn’t just about management communicating to staff and vice versa. It also offers workers the ability to chat with each other and share successes, learnings, and updates. These streams help build a sense of culture and make new members quickly feel like they’re part of the team. It can also help create an inclusive workplace culture. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that digital solutions for staff management aren’t just beneficial during the busy periods. They are also a great asset year round to announce company information, host shifts, create two-way communication streams with employees and management and establish an atmosphere of teamwork.

So I would urge retailers to investigate how internal communications platforms will benefit their organisations. You will no doubt discover that an internal communications platform isn’t just for Christmas. It’s a tool that can benefit your business for life.

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