Ongoing Development

What do seasonal workers really want? We asked them.

Posted on: November 11, 2022Updated on: January 24, 2024By: Richia McCutcheon

For many companies trying to get a handle on this year’s holiday season, it might feel like a confusing one. Rollercoaster consumer shopping trends and tighter budgets amid inflation have made it difficult to discern the right volume of seasonal workers, and the pace they need to be hired at, to see success. 

But all hope for a successful season is not lost.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday spending will be on the rebound, increasing by 6-8%, and that although the overall number of seasonal workers will likely drop, supporting the ones that do end up getting hired to meet increased consumer demand will be as important as ever before. 

For organizations taking the plunge, it’s important to know exactly how the seasonal planning and hiring landscape has changed. We surveyed 1,500 U.S. seasonal workers across the finance and insurance, retail and grocery, and food service and hospitality sectors to better understand what persuades them to take a job, their preferences toward professional growth and how to design a safe, productive workplace.

Here’s a peek into In their words: The state of the seasonal worker and some of the learnings about creating an ideal workplace environment we uncovered.

Retail employee setting up sale sign next to mannequins in a display

1. Workers are feeling the pressure, too

For most, seasonal work is more than another part-time job; it’s about making a livable wage. Four in five (79%) seasonal workers say they face a financial burden because of the economic downturn and 81% say that’s the reason they’ve taken on an additional seasonal job in the first place. 

Offering seasonal workers competitive pay and flexibility to pick up shifts where they need to can help them feel more dedicated and valued. Plus, it makes the role more attractive to potential new hires while mitigating scheduling conflicts that can arise during the busy holiday season.

2. These short-term positions are actually opportunities for long-term career growth

According to our survey, 43% of seasonal workers intend to use their seasonal job to get their foot in the door in another department or role within their organization. Additionally, nearly one-third (31%) see seasonal work as a training opportunity.

That means surface-level training isn’t going to cut it—seasonal workers need (and want) to be given the opportunity to learn enough to be prepared for unexpected challenges and walk away with meaningful, transferable knowledge that can stick with them throughout their career, whether they come back for another seasonal term, stay with the company long-term or end up somewhere else entirely.

3. Seasonal workers want to feel safe

External pressures mean conflict and workplace violence have become all too common. Over half (59%) of seasonal workers say they encounter customer conflict and issues daily—but many revealed that they haven’t been trained to handle these incidents. 

Everyone deserves to feel safe at their jobs, but unfortunately this fundamental right has been overlooked for many seasonal workers. Narrow training and development windows often meant these essential topics haven’t been prioritized. Our survey revealed that developing a workplace violence prevention and response plan is clearly a necessity—no matter the tenure of the employee.

The biggest change that needs to be made is really a mentality shift. Seasonal workers aren’t just temporary extensions of your workforce—they’re vital. They help you fill the gaps in the talent pool so you can thrive during busy periods when your permanent staff can’t handle the demand alone. Their experiences working for your brand leave a mark and matter long after the season has come and gone, so it’s time to reassess and make that impact overwhelmingly positive.

Dig into the survey results right here to discover more hot-off-the-presses insights about how to bridge the gaps in seasonal worker training and development in actionable ways that will benefit your employees and your business.

Richia McCutcheon

As Senior Brand Marketing Manager, Richia McCutcheon spends her time sharing Axonify's story in the market and learning about what frontlines need to thrive.

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