Employee motivation is a complex and often difficult-to-unravel phenomenon, as both organizational researchers and management practitioners can surely attest. Although it’s normal for employees to move through cycles of differing levels of enthusiasm about their jobs, most hospitality industry workplaces are uniquely customer service driven, and as such, they tend to demand an extraordinarily high level of care, concern, and engagement.
In a tight market, poor or lackadaisical customer service can be the kiss of death in the hospitality space. That’s why hospitality industry managers have a vested interest in keeping their staff motivated and engaged. But in an industry that relies heavily on seasonal and temporary workers, the thorny dilemma of employee motivation can be even more complicated.
There’s often a strong inclination to lump permanent and temporary employees into the same general category. But when it comes to understanding employee motivation, it’s more effective and realistic to regard these groups as inherently different. According to Dayle M. Smith, author of Motivating People, there are many factors and variables that may help motivate your regular staff, but will probably fall flat if you apply them to your temporary and seasonal employee pools.
Generally speaking, regular employees tend to care more about things like personal fulfillment, job satisfaction, career advancement, and building a reputation for excellence. On the other hand, most temporary workers are focused on the short-term, and thus aren’t as concerned with these types of long-range issues. If you want to motivate your seasonal and temporary employees, you have to focus more on tangible, material, short-term rewards.
Are you ready to fire up your holiday helpers? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
If you’re the type of manager who tends to stockpile praise for the annual performance review, it’s time to break that habit. With seasonal employees who probably aren’t going to be around long enough to merit a formal performance review, positive feedback is much more significant as a motivational tool. When you witness or hear about a seasonal employee coming through in a crunch or going above and beyond the call of duty, be sure to let them know you’re pleased.
The most effective motivational techniques are those that leave the biggest impression. If you reward excellent performance with a prize or perk that is unforgettable, you’ll be more likely to achieve the most noticeable results. Extend the impact even further by publicly bestowing rewards for excellence – this will influence not only the recipient, but will also likely ripple out to boost the morale of your entire pool of seasonal workers.
If you have a few permanent openings to fill, be sure to let your temporary employees know that excellent performance may lead to further opportunities with the company down the road. Conversely, if you’re particularly impressed with the performance of one of your seasonal workers, consider creating a permanent position for him or her when the busy season draws to a close.
Motivation researchers say that employees who feel overlooked and undervalued often diminish team morale. These problems are often prevalent among seasonal employees, who often report feeling isolated from the permanent team. You can help prevent this outcome by taking time out to interact with your temporary employees and granting them regular opportunities to ask questions and voice concerns.
Managing temporary staff can be a tricky proposition, but if you rise to the challenge and implement these simple tips, the results you’ll reap will be worth much more than the time and resources you’ve invested. Good luck!