Retaining your flexible / seasonal workforce… things to consider

snoopy-charlie-brown-end-of-summerIt is the end of the season now for ‘Happy Holidays’ and most of us are on our way back home for the winter.  Some of us are already thinking about next year though.  You may remember that one of my first postings was about leaving a role from an employee’s point of view.  To bring things full circle, I was considering some pointers for organisations like ‘Happy Holidays’ who are keen to retain their flexible workforce even though there is a break of a few months before work starts again.

Flexible working is becoming more widespread and can be beneficial for both organisations and individuals; after all not everyone wants to work full time, all of the time.  If you have some talented / skilled staff and want to retain them even when work isn’t available what can you do?  Some suggestions could include the following:

  • Does the person know that you would like them to work for you again in the future?  Be explicit about this and make sure that they know that you value their skills and expertise.  Be clear that you would like to offer them work again when it is available.
  • Have an honest, open conversation about the gap in the work and how it affects for you both.  Are you both ok with the gap?  Does the person want to work for you again when the work resumes? (Be clear about both or your expectations.)
  • Are there any other work options coming up?  They may not be the same but they could have tranferrable skills you could use.
  • Assuming the answer is yes, agree how you will keep in touch during the gap.  Keeping in touch means they still feel part of things and will increase the prospects of them returning to you later.  It could be as simple as email newsletters, other corporate updates or even a Christmas card.
  • Do you want them to do any training / skills updating / CPD (continuous professional development) during the gap?  Is this obligatory or just preferable?  (if it’s obligatory are you going to pay them to do it?)
  • Do you want to offer any retainer payments or welcome back payments as an incentive for their return?  Or are there any other benefits you could offer as an incentive to them to return?
  • If they can’t return to work for you, can they recommend you to other colleagues with similar skills and experience who you might want to offer work to?  (this could be another incentive such as a ‘recommend a friend’ scheme.)

Motivated, talented staff are worth a lot – so even if your initial reaction to some of the points above is ‘no’, you might want to really weigh up the costs and advantages again and decide if you really can afford not to do some of these things after all.

So until next season……..  A bientot.

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