What Are the Best Incentive Tips to Motivate Your Seasonal Employees?

Sep 19, 2012 2:15 AM  By

Now that the holiday season is nearly upon us, seasonal staffing becomes a huge concern for many merchants who rely on this time year for the bulk of their annual revenue. Hiring and retaining seasonal staff is a crucial component for any merchant’s success or failure during the holiday season.

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What sort of incentives can merchants offer to motivate seasonal employees? Here are some incentive tips to consider offered by members of Multichannel Merchant’s Operations & Fulfillment LinkedIn page.

Joe Kidder, operations management for the J.C. Penney Logistics Center in Manchester, CT, said referral bonuses are good incentives. If a current employee refers someone for a position, and the seasonal hire remains employed for a specified time period, then at the end of the season the employee receives a bonus and recognition for a great referral. The seasonal employee may also receive an extension or a permanent offer.

“The benefit to the company is reduced turnover during a critical time of year,” Kidder said. “The bonus is money well spent considering the costs of hiring and lost productivity due to turnover. Most referral candidates will do well so not to let their friend down, and an employee would normally refer only good quality candidates.”

Thomas Landry, president of Allegiance Staffing, believes in incentives based on pay for performance so his company structures all incentives on “after the fact” results.

“One of the best seasonal incentives is a completion bonus,” Landry said. “You receive it after the season if you met the criteria, no misses, and no write-ups. This should be separate from daily and weekly production bonuses. This keeps them thinking more long term in addition to production and quality objectives. Most of our clients don’t mind paying for something they already received. The end result of this is substantial savings on headcount, rework and after season returns.”

Anne Embrey, vice president of fulfillment operations for Replacements Ltd., said her company uses a temp agency for the initial legwork involved in seasonal hires. “For new seasonal workers they understand we typically keep on three or four of the top performers as regular employees, and for returning seasonal staff not interested in permanent employment, we pay a higher rate. We also allow our temps to participate in all of our seasonal staff activities – Wednesday treats, a game room, gift cards for working key days, and special department and company meals.”

Timothy Holody, chief operating officer at Seta/Palm Beach Jewelry, said the “very best” incentive he ever used for seasonal employees was quite simple: “We paid a bonus of $50 for every seasonal (temp-type) employee for every 80 hours worked,” Holody said. “This got them to commit to working hours to achieve the bonus.”

Jim Tierney (jim.tierney@penton.com) is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-358-4265.