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How To  Retain Seasonal Workers

How To Retain Seasonal Workers

RETURN TRIP: It's not impossible to lure seasonal workers back to your restaurant year after year if you make yourself the boss of choice.

How do musicians behave when their audiences continue to applaud after the concert ends? They usually return to the stage for an encore—and more applause. How should you behave when the employees you hired to help your business through the holidays leave? If you want your good seasonal employees to come back and work for you next year, keep applauding all year long.

Applause is a way of showing appreciation, of praising others for a job well done. You don't have to keep clapping your hands to keep applauding, either.

Simply staying in touch is a form of applause, of saying, "You did such a great job that I'm still thinking about you." If you've gotten to know the people who've worked for you even a little, staying in touch in a way they'll appreciate is easy.

It's just as important to hold exit interviews for your departing holiday help as it is for your non-seasonal employees. Aside from giving you an opportunity to express your appreciation, exit interviews are a great way to take stock of how smoothly your business ran during the holidays.

Ask your seasonal workers:

  • What did you enjoy most about working here?
  • What made you take the job? (If they came from referrals, use the info to build a referral program)
  • How did you hear about this job? (Use this for marketing next year)
  • What could we have done better? How would doing that have helped you do your job more easily?
  • What problems could have been avoided? How can we avoid those problems next year?
  • Was the training you received sufficient? Would you come back to work for us in the summer or at this time next year?
  • Who was the best fellow employee you worked with over this holiday?
  • Do you have any friends you would recommend we contact to work here?

Be sure you double check employees' contact information at their exit interviews and make necessary changes. You undoubtedly have college students' local addresses, phones and e-mails, but getting the same information for the time when they're at school will make staying in touch with them much easier.

Above all, ask them about their plans for the future. Ask if the employee is interested in coming back to work for you. Ask the employee who plans to enter a work/study program if a letter of reference from you would help. Find out how the one who expects to graduate in June plans to spend the summer.

Then get creative about finding ways to stay in touch. Enter departing employees' birth-dates into a software program that reminds you when it's time to send a card. Check out e-card sites for free cards you can email. Touch base every couple of months, even if you just send an e-mail that says, "Hi, how's it going?" If you have a company newsletter, be sure you send them a copy. If these employees are students, offer a small scholarship as a bonus for returning. Discounts on merchandise or free meals help keep them.

After all, whom would you rather come back to work for? The employer who consistently shows caring or the one who just says, "Goodbye?"

Mel Kleiman is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training, processes and tools for recruiting, selection and retention of the best hourly workforce. He is also the author of four books, including Hire Tough Manage Easy. You can reach Mel at 800-218-0930, [email protected] or

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