5 Tips To Communicate More Effectively With Your Seasonal Workforce
Spring has sprung. For many of us, this means it's the perfect time to get started on a bit of light gardening. The perfect time to go outside and enjoy the weather (while taking all the necessary precautions against COVID-19, obviously).
For businesses in the greenhouse industry, spring means something else entirely. We're right on the cusp of their busiest season. The beginning of arguably their most important growing cycle, one which could make or break operations for the rest of the year.
There are several reasons for this:
Warmer weather and longer days mean considerably higher crop yields.
Demand for greenhouse products soars, particularly seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Holidays such as Mother's Day and Easter can in some cases comprise the majority of annual profits.
2020 only further complicated matters for greenhouse operators. On the one hand, demand for produce was higher than ever, such that some businesses had trouble keeping up. On the other, supply chain disruptions, lockdown protocols, last-minute cancellations, and restaurant closures led to more than a few lost sales and ruined harvests.
Though we can't say for sure what sort of challenges growers will see in 2021, there will likely be a lot of similarities to last year. As you might expect, greenhouses will be required to bring in a ton of seasonal staff just to keep up. And keeping in touch with them will be more crucial than ever.
Picture the following:
A grower receives a massive, last-minute order, the largest they've seen this year. To meet it, they need all hands on deck.
During an unexpected cold snap, a greenhouse's heater fails. If the plants within are not moved immediately while the heater is being repaired, the grower could potentially lose some or all of their crops.
A seasonal worker is uncertain about how to properly care for a particular crop. Unfortunately, the only people they can contact for clarification are unavailable.
All three of the situations described above have the potential to be damaging, even catastrophic. And all three scenarios can be solved through better communication. By ensuring that seasonal employees are both reachable and engaged.
That doesn't just apply to greenhouses, either. If your business employs seasonal workers, you need to be able to contact them as effortlessly as you would permanent staff. We're going to talk about how to ensure you can.
Know What Needs To Be Said
We've all dealt with chatterboxes at work.
People who insist on sending emails about even the most unnecessary topics. Who say in ten messages what could be said in one. Who generally just flood everyone around them with so much information that everyone starts to tune them out.
This is annoying enough when it's a colleague doing it, but if it's leadership? You can fully expect that people will start ignoring company communication. And it won't just be seasonal workers who do so, either.
It'll be everyone. It's sort of like the old story of the boy who cried wolf. He caused so many false alarms that when there was actually a problem, no one listened.
Policy Is Just As Important as Technology
It's easy to forget that software is only half the battle when communicating with your seasonal staff. The other half is ensuring your business has the necessary policies and processes in place.
Determining how many employees you need to hire.
The application process.
Training and onboarding.
Behavioral expectations for both employees and management.
What should be done when there's a problem.
Scheduling and payment.
Don't Overcomplicate Things
How are you keeping in touch with your seasonal workers? What tools have you given them for keeping in touch with you? And most importantly, what have you done to keep this communication as streamlined as possible?
Whatever channels you use, they need to meet a few qualifications:
Efficiency. For seasonal workers especially, you need to be able to communicate and connect with them in real-time. Conversations via email may drag on for hours or even days, while phone calls are both time-consuming and not viable for group communication.
Security. Social networks and consumer messaging apps are not designed for business communication. SMS messages, meanwhile, are both easy to hijack and subject to network congestion from carriers.
Ease of use. Seasonal workers shouldn't be expected to memorize a list of phone numbers or emails, and the time it takes to manually update a mailing list or phone tree is best spent elsewhere.
What you need to do is centralize everything in one place. Not just communication, but company announcements, business information, and workplace collaboration. This streamlines onboarding and off-boarding considerably, while also helping to ensure that seasonal employees are kept in the loop.
There's still a place for your website, email, and social media, of course — they just aren't great for the day-to-day.
Keep Your Door Open
Seasonal employees should be able to know at a glance who they need to contact about a particular problem.
More importantly, they should know that they can reach out if they need something. An open-door policy is a must, as is the ability to connect with both seasonal colleagues and full-timers. You must not, under any circumstances, treat temporary employees differently from permanent ones.
That's simply a recipe for disaster.
Stay In Touch Even After The Season Ends
Rather than having to go through a new hiring push every time you hit the busy season, keep in contact with the employees you hired this year. Here's where email and social media come into the picture. Maintain a directory of your successful hires — thank them for being a pa
rt of your team, then contact them the next time you need to hire seasonal help.
This significantly reduces the amount of time spent on recruitment. You don't need to seek out, vet, and train a completely new face. Instead, you can bring in someone who's already familiar with your organization and they can start working right away.
Better Communication and Collaboration Through Unio
A powerful, secure collaboration platform, Unio enables streamlined collaboration over voice, video, text, and instant messaging. In addition to being incredibly easy to use, its user group and channel functionality make it easy for both seasonal and full-time staff to know where to turn when they need help. Better yet, its integrated newsfeed allows you to keep everyone in the loop about company announcements, industry updates, critical events, and more.
With Unio, keeping in touch with both seasonal and full-time employees is easier than ever — if you're interested in learning more, give us a shout and we'll walk you through a personalized demo.