How to Boost Your Seasonal Employee Training

With Black Friday (or the recently dubbed Gray Thursday) just around the corner, retailers around the country are preparing for the holiday rush. A big part of that preparation is seasonal hiring, and this year, there have been more hires than usual. The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts that cumulative seasonal hires during the last three months of this year will climb over 800,000 for the first time since 1999. Whether handling shipments or out on the floor, seasonal employees are a huge part of making the holiday season a success.

Of course, with all of these new hires comes training. And seasonal employee training requires a slight change in strategy. Seasonal employees need to ramp quickly, which means lots of information at once, but they also can’t be too overwhelmed to lose focus. Because they don’t have much time, it’s critical to hear their feedback and correct mistakes or misconceptions as early as possible. Finally, they need to feel valued–even though they’re only working for you in the short term, remind them that they represent your brand during your biggest sales of the year.

To help you get the most out of your seasonal training, whether now or in 2015, we’ve compiled five top seasonal strategies. Think we’ve left something out? Let us know in the comments below!

1. Adopt BYO-Device

Allowing employees to bring their mobile devices to work offers more flexible training opportunities. With a mobile device in hand, quick referencing, assessments, and on-the-job training can work seamlessly together, which maximizes your limited time. Your employees can take a short quiz during downtime, double-check product specifics as they go, and tuck away their device when answering customer questions. What’s more, you’ll spend less time answering questioning because your employees won’t have to rack their brain for answers; instead, they’ll have what they need right in the palm of their hand.

2. Create compelling content

Compelling content, rich with interactive elements and hi-res images, does a lot for seasonal employees. First, it engages them quickly, so that your training material clicks right away. But, perhaps more importantly, it allows you to convey the spirit of your brand with colors, photos, customer testimonials–wherever your creativity takes you. Instead of feeding your employees scripted lines, they’ll have a better, more genuine sense of what to tell customers with content that speaks for itself.

3. Enable easy content updates

During the holiday season, things move fast. One day your product might be 25% off, and the next you’ll bump it up to 50%. Or, perhaps you’ve decided to give away a gift with every purchase over $50, or have recently updated your seasonal menu to include another holiday drink. Whatever the case, you need to communicate all of these changes to your employees, and fast. With content that updates automatically across all devices, you won’t have to worry about your employees reading the wrong PDF or worse, passing it around to others. During the busy holiday season, tracking down outdated or incorrect information shouldn’t be part of your to-do list.

4. Gather feedback

As you train your seasonal employees, they’ll inevitably have questions, and it’s your job to address them up front as much as possible. With content analytics, you’ll have a clear idea of which content sees the most use, and which sections employees are glossing over. Do your employees keep returning to content with lots of interactivity? Are they quick to abandon a specific section? Ask your employees what’s confusing, and where they need extra help. With the right data, you can revise and restructure your content to ensure that it’s clear, and reduce the number of misunderstandings later on.

5. Offer incentives

Seasonal workers expect to have their hands full, and expect you to reward them for their hard work. Keep them engaged and on task by offering incentives when they hit important milestones, such as completing your training material. Extra discounts or bonuses are always welcome, but especially during the holiday season.

The bottom line:

If you’re in retail, seasonal employees are a must for the busy holiday season. Make sure that you not only equip yourself with a bigger team but also with better training. When time is of the essence, creating content that is engaging, allows for easy updates and, most importantly, is mobile-optimized will give your team what they need to succeed.

To learn more about Inkling’s cloud-publishing platform, contact our sales team for a free demo!