To hire, engage, and retain productive seasonal employees, give the gift of text messaging

Sam DeFlitch

December 2, 2021

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, end-of-year sales — and also, a tight labor market. Despite nationwide staffing challenges, businesses are expected to hire 700,000 retail workers, restaurant staff, and delivery drivers this winter. Hiring and retaining seasonal frontline employees has proved a challenge to businesses over the past year, so attracting and engaging these employees requires a creative, comprehensive approach for supporting — and listening to — your workers’ needs.

At Mainstay, we’re partnering with companies to help them rise to the challenge of attracting and retaining seasonal frontline employees in a tight labor market. Our Employee Engagement Platform enables HR teams like yours to support frontline employees automatically with timely, empathetic answers to their questions and contextually relevant nudges that remind them to take action on the things that will help them succeed. 

These real-time conversations with employees all take place through automated text messaging conversations. That’s because texting outperforms all other communication channels — including email. In fact, 90% percent of people read every text they receive within just three minutes, making it the best way to capture your frontline employees’ attention right now. Additionally, HR teams that use Mainstay’s platform benefit from real-time, aggregate data and insights on their employees’ responses. That enables them to gauge employee motivation and sentiments, so they can make fast adjustments that will lead to improved retention — which is especially key during the competitive holiday hiring season.

Let Scrooge be the only one getting ghosted: How text messaging improves preboarding and reduces employee no-shows

While starting a new job can be an exciting time for a new employee, it also brings a flurry of activity that may leave them feeling overwhelmed and undersupported — which can lead to employees “ghosting.” Let’s face it: When new hires don’t show up for their first day on the job during the holiday season, it’s even more unsettling than getting a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future for HR teams and hiring managers. Thankfully, there are strategies you and your team can implement that will significantly reduce the rate of new hire ghosting and shift no-shows. For example, having a strong preboarding experience can strengthen your new employees’ commitment to the job before they even start — making them more likely to show up for day one and become more productive sooner. 

The time between when an employee accepts a job and their first day of work is the perfect time to start building relationships with them. Empathetic, 2-way text messaging is the most effective way to create a rapport and establish your new employee’s connection to the company — in fact, companies that use Mainstay to have text conversations with new hires have reduced no-shows by up to 40%. Preboarding also accelerates the onboarding process, which is especially vital during the holiday season when you need new hires to get up to speed quickly. With retail sales in the US expected to rise 9% through December, many retail and food service businesses will be booming. It’s crucial that your new employees are prepared to meet this need, and ready to hit the ground running on day one.

Third shift workers don’t always want a silent night: Support your employees wherever — and whenever — they work

Deskless work environments present a unique challenge when it comes to fostering a great work culture. Your frontline employees — such as delivery drivers, warehouse staff, customer service representatives or manufacturing workers — might be feeling left out in the cold this holiday season, especially if they don’t have regular interactions with other coworkers or supervisors. These team members require clear and consistent communication, too, after all. That’s especially true during the fast-paced holiday season when productivity is so valuable to your company, which is why it’s critical to use the most effective channel to engage your frontline employees.

Enter: The text message. By using text messaging to communicate with your frontline and deskless workers, your team will be able to better support their success at your company — whether that’s just for the holiday season, or for years to come. ​​Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform makes it easy to text your employees, and our Behavioral Intelligence approach is proven to reduce churn, accelerate productivity, and increase employee satisfaction at scale. Our partners achieve employee response rates of 80-90% when they use the Mainstay platform to automatically text their employees.

The holiday season often brings variable hours and irregular shift patterns for your frontline workers — which can limit effective communication between them and your HR team. Clear, consistent communication in the form of personalized, automated text messaging provides your deskless workers with the relevant, timely information they need, regardless of their shift timing or location. By automating empathetic check-ins, timely nudges, and answers to your employees’ questions, you can provide them with 24/7, real-time support — even when they don’t have live access to supervisors or your HR team.

Sleigh bells ring — are you listening (to your employees)? Use real-time employee feedback to make meaningful improvements

In an attempt to meet seasonal workers’ needs, companies are using a range of incentives to attract and retain employees, including higher wages and bonuses. But higher wages and bonuses may only be part of the solution. In fact, a survey of thousands of frontline workers revealed that schedule, flexibility, and culture matter more to them than pay when starting a new job. Given the rapidly-shifting nature of hiring and worker expectations, a more comprehensive approach to employee engagement is critical this holiday season — which means your HR team has to figure out what really matters to your people. To gain that understanding and set your company apart in a competitive hiring market, you need a way to actively listen to your employees at scale and gauge their motivation and sentiments.  

This holiday season is once again arriving in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has presented a massive challenge to frontline workers — and the companies that want to hire and retain them. Many retail and service workers have quit their jobs after facing hostility from customers on masking or social distancing policies. So, part of an effective frontline employee retention strategy may include providing them with increased COVID-19 protections and tips for staying safe and healthy. 

During this holiday season — and for the foreseeable future — the employers that develop the strongest retention strategies will set themselves apart from the competition. In order to provide your employees with the support they actually need and the workplace environment they expect, your HR team needs to use innovative communication practices to determine what matters most to them. 

Of course, it can be difficult to determine the specific adjustments your HR team needs to make to your employee retention and support efforts — and that’s where Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform enters the picture. Text messaging enables your HR team to engage employees with empathetic check-ins and quick surveys. In return, you’ll collect aggregate feedback on employee sentiments to learn what matters most to your people. What your employees really want could be increased flexibility in scheduling or more opportunities for advancement. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask and listen to their feedback. Showing your employees that they’re being heard promotes deeper employee engagement, which will improve retention throughout the holiday season and beyond.

The snowball’s in your court: Use texting to hire and retain your seasonal employees this holiday season

The competition for frontline and seasonal employees is fierce during the holidays. Set your business apart by engaging your employees with automated, 2-way text messaging that delivers them  personalized responses to their questions and relevant, timely nudges to improve their onboarding experience, reduce no-shows, and support employees during every shift. In return, you’ll learn what’s really on your employees’ minds through empathetic check-in messages and surveys — allowing your HR team to quickly improve retention and make your company a great place to work.

Request a demo today to learn more about how Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform will spruce up your employee engagement strategy this holiday season.

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