June 14, 2018

Seven ways to better engage temporary, seasonal and gig employees

Engaging your temporary talent is important for both your business and your brand. Here, our VP Employee Experience Deb LaMere offers some tips for managers to boost engagement with these employees.

Typically, the goal in human resources is to ensure employee retention and productivity with every worker. You want high performers to stick with your organization for a long time and put in high-quality work.

However, some types of positions weren’t designed for the “long haul.” A brief tenure – usually just a few months – is typically what’s expected from seasonal or gig workers. This is especially true in industries like food service and retail.

Plus, the gig economy is also expanding, and fast. The number of workers taking on gigs – either as side jobs or as full-time freelancers – is growing. It’s projected that 43% of the American workforce will be freelancers in 2020.

Engaging temporary, seasonal and gig employees is important. Why? Just like a great customer experience creates repeat customers, a great employee experience creates repeat employees.

To inspire your temporary workers, you need to motivate them, and focus on how your employee experience engages them. Here are some tips for managers to help boost engagement with your seasonal, temporary and gig workers.

Make inclusion core to culture

The ideal workplace culture is welcoming to everyone, not just employees with long tenures. Seasonal, temporary and gig workers are part of your team no matter how long they are there. If going to work feels inviting for everyone, then everyone will be more likely to stay engaged.

Ceridian’s Employee Resource Groups offer some tips on promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including being aware of unconscious bias and mixing up teams. Read more in this post.

Don’t pack all training into employees’ first days or one session

Author Matt Heller says in Forbes that front-loading training can stunt growth of seasonal workers. “First, it gives employees very little to look forward to. Second, rarely do employees truly learn and absorb all of the material covered in a few days or hours of orientation.”

It’s true that many organizations do make the training load heavy at the beginning because they’re keen for employees to hit the ground running, and because temporary employees have a limited time with the organization.

However, we’ve learned that the best learning with the greatest retention happens on the ground and in practice, so build this approach into your seasonal and temporary hire training strategy. Embedding learning opportunities as part of employees’ daily work lives is also an engagement and retention booster.

Related: The five keys to ongoing employee engagement

Set clear goals for what success looks like

Sometimes, seasonal workers feel like they aren’t really working toward anything – they’re just ready to get out in a few weeks or months. But if you give them goals to strive for, they might become more focused and motivated.

Regardless of how long an employee’s term is with your organization, it’s important to show them how their contributions impact your business and your culture, and help them feel connected to their work.

Recognize and celebrate workers’ successes

When you set goals and your seasonal employees achieve them, be sure to let the employees know that they’ve done a great job and deserve to be praised.

As I said in a previous post, recognition can be simply saying thank you, and recognizing good work when it’s done. In some cases, it might even be time to dole out rewards as tokens of your appreciation.

Related: Three tips for effective employee recognition

Get feedback on your employees’ experience

At Ceridian, we believe in facilitating a culture of open and honest feedback – and that includes establishing ways for employees to provide feedback on an ongoing basis, whether through pulse surveys or informal conversation.

This is true for all employees, whether they are temporary, or full-time and permanent. What do they think about your organization? What’s it like to work there? What do they think can be improved on? You can’t pursue further engagement initiatives unless you’re aware of what you’re trying to address.

Empower employees and foster a flexible environment with technology

Employees today look for environments that encourage personal and professional success – and that includes employers offering flexible schedules. If people can rejig their shifts to fit with their balanced personal lives, they’ll feel more comfortable in their jobs.

To manage their gig workforces, more organizations are turning to technology to empower their people, boost their productivity and provide them with greater flexibility. For example, they use mobile HCM platforms so that employees can easily access up-to-date schedules on their phones and make real-time decisions about upcoming tasks and trading shifts.

Rethink your compensation strategy

Finally, there’s one thing that employees of all kinds value, and that’s a paycheck. Particularly in a tight labor market, if you’re willing to offer more competitive compensation for your temp workers, they may decide to stay.

There are also ways to be more competitive with compensation that aren’t related to hourly wage, for example, offering other benefits and perks. It’s important to be aware of how competitive your compensation strategy is, and get creative to energize and engage employees.

Related: The new compensation strategy: Be more creative


Ensuring that you engage your seasonal, temporary, and gig workers is good for both your business and your brand.

You’ll build a pipeline of great talent that already knows your organization, and, having added value in the limited time they worked with your organization, will continue to do so. From an administrative perspective, you’ll have fewer headaches when you welcome these employees back, while strengthening culture.

Plus, remember that your employees are your greatest advocates. Putting just as much emphasis on engaging temp workers as you would with your full-time workforce contributes positively to your brand perception, and builds your organization’s reputation.

Deb LaMere

Deb LaMere is the Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian. With 17 years’ experience in human resources, Deb is responsible for employee engagement, talent management and performance management for Ceridian.

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