How to host a virtual onboarding program for seasonal employees

Oct 12, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

Winter is coming. And with it, a holiday season that will look and feel much different than it has in years past. If your business relies on temporary employees to get you through the busy season, your onboarding process needs to look and feel different as well. Many employers are pivoting to virtual new hire orientation events to welcome new team members amid the pandemic, and organizations that hire seasonal employees can employ a similar model. As you know from the pre-pandemic times, onboarding temporary employees is a little different from longer term employees—everything happens faster, there’s less room for turnover, and it’s crucial to design a quality employee experience and lay the foundation for a strong relationship that encourages temp workers to come back year after year.

All of this can be accomplished with a virtual onboarding program for seasonal employees, and the following steps will help you design an event you can use with each batch of temporary employees who join your organization this holiday season.

The need for speed

Everything about your relationship with seasonal employees happens fast. They need to be recruited, hired, and onboarded much faster than employees who might stay with you for years. And because they may only be with you for a few weeks or months, it’s even more important to give them onboarding information as early as possible.

The best approach is to plan ahead by scheduling onboarding events prior to or on Day 1 of work, and consider hosting multiple events if you’re hiring seasonal employees in waves. Virtual onboarding events can be held daily or even multiple times a day, especially if you’re a larger organization that hires tens of thousands of seasonal employees. With virtual onboarding events, you can build an event once and use it many times throughout the season as new hires come on board.

Short and sweet

One perk of onboarding programs for short-term employees is that they don’t require hours and hours of time, because they don’t need to include a lot of the information that is only relevant for long term employees, such as benefits, retirement savings, vacation policies, etc. The most effective virtual onboarding events for seasonal employees are also the most efficient, and won’t demand a huge time investment from your seasonal workers.

Avoid the temptation to overinflate the event program with superfluous sessions or unnecessary information. Stick to the information seasonal employees actually need to know to be successful in their temporary roles. Your virtual onboarding event will probably cover instructions about hiring paperwork, information on work schedules, timesheets/clock, and pay schedules, in addition to company policies on conduct and other crucial details you need your seasonal crew to know.

Don’t cut out culture

Your virtual onboarding events for seasonal employees should deliver all the necessary information to fulfill your administrative processes and compliance standards. But don’t stop there. Even seasonal employees want to feel like they belong in your organization. They probably got a sense of your culture during the recruiting process, but don’t leave it at that. Use your virtual onboarding program to expand their understanding of the company culture and introduce them to key players in their department as well as at the leadership level. Your virtual onboarding event can include live broadcast video sessions or pre-recorded videos from organization leaders so seasonal employees can put faces with names and feel more connected to their new team.

If you ever extend job offers to seasonal employees, your virtual onboarding event is a good opportunity to outline the path. Let your temporary hires know what you’re looking for, and use your virtual onboarding events to feature success stories and employee testimonials. By allowing seasonal employees to see and hear firsthand the experience of long term employees, they can begin to envision themselves in the same role.

Temporary work, lasting impression

Seasonal employees may only be with you for a few weeks or months, and many will not return in future years. This means you have just a short amount of time to deliver a stellar employee experience and give them positive memories to carry into their future, wherever it may lead them. Starting with a carefully planned virtual onboarding program makes a strong first impression and lets seasonal employees know that they are important to your organization. Done well, virtual onboarding events can help you earn trust and build engagement with temporary workers, and possibly encourage them to return the following season.