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Most Companies Fail to Engage With Seasonal Hires

image for Kzenon/Shutterstock
Kzenon/Shutterstock
  • Researchers found that seasonal hires are treated as a separate group of employees and "treated much less personally."
  • When it comes to engagement, seasonal hires under the age of 34 feel more in touch with the company and their co-workers than their counterparts who are age 45 and older.
  • Employees who hire and onboard seasonal workers had the highest praise for newcomers.
  • Managers and people who instruct seasonal workers on a day-to-day basis had the lowest opinion of seasonal hires.

Depending on the audience your small business caters to, certain times of year are busier than others. For instance, retail store owners know that foot traffic generally spikes from Thanksgiving until just after New Year's Day. Regardless of when your busy season takes place, most businesses rely on seasonal hires to temporarily fill staffing needs. While the gig economy is expected to take up half of the American workforce next year, a recent study found that most employers don't do much to engage and motivate seasonal hires.

Throughout June, Speakap polled 500 HR, management and operations employees from large organizations in the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands about how they are trying to change their internal communications to include the rising tide of gig workers.

Despite how important gig workers, such as seasonal hires, are becoming to businesses around the world in the coming years, Speakap CEO and Co-Founder Erwin Van Der Vlist said the company's survey shows employers are not keeping up with the times. "We're now seeing that the way in which companies traditionally engage, motivate and speak with their employees is not evolving with or reaching this growing, often deskless, workforce," said Van Der Vlist. "Many companies still see gig workers as temporary employees, failing to future-proof their organization by ensuring this growing workforce is engaged with the company, feels valued within the workforce and is thus more productive than workers of their competitors."

For most people, working as a seasonal hire generally takes place while they're still in school, opting to earn money during extended breaks between semesters. While that may be the case for most, that's not how people typically enter the gig economy. These days, plenty of age groups re-enter the workforce to help make ends meet.

According to Speakap's data, age plays a big part in whether a seasonal hire finds themselves feeling more engaged at work or not. Workers who are 45 or older reported feeling less engaged with their employer than employees aged 34 and younger. Furthermore, regular employees said they felt conversations with seasonal workers between the ages of 35 and 54 were a "one-way street" roughly 60% of the time, while the same was said only 37% of the time for their 18- to 24-year-old counterparts.

Respondents also told researchers that their companies were often more likely to do "nothing" to engage with older seasonal workers than they were with younger employees. "This suggests that organizations put more effort into engaging younger seasonal workers than they do in older ones," researchers wrote in the study.

Along with the age factor, researchers found that companies with a higher number of seasonal helpers were failing to engage with those workers. In fact, companies that had a majority of seasonal employees treated those workers "less personally and are less engaged" than organizations that employed a smaller percentage of seasonal workers.

In companies with 51% to 75% of its workforce made up of seasonal hires, 42% of respondents said they would rather finish their workday on time than make sure the seasonal help was being properly onboarded. Companies with 1% to 25% of its workforce made up of seasonal workers saw 70% of respondents wanting the opposite.

As such, a company could end up lacking clarity on how their seasonal workers are performing. According to researchers, 43% of the employees who onboard seasonal help said they felt those workers regularly performed "above expectations." Only 27% of the employees who managed and instructed a seasonal worker every day felt the same way.

Respondents from companies that had many seasonal workers told researchers that communication was often more difficult than with full-time, regular staff. According to researchers, employees in charge of hiring and onboarding seasonal gig workers found communications more difficult (38%), along with those in charge of seasonal workers' day-to-day tasks (24%).

"While the study's findings clearly indicate that companies have not been updating their internal processes to accommodate the growth of the gig economy, there are relatively easy ways to improve," Van Der Vlist said. "Technology ... can be a vital tool in helping to make employees feel connected to both the wider company and fellow colleagues across the entire organization."

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.