While working on “Training on the Temp” by senior editor Dana Robinson for this issue, I was overcome with a moment of nostalgia.
In this feature, pool retailers offers tips on best practices for training temporary staff. One of the main benefits to investing time and effort into training temps is that it encourages the good eggs to return the following year, thereby saving the company money and resources in training a new hire. This was exactly my experience many years ago.
Like most young people, I had a series of retail jobs when I was in my late teens and early 20s. The most impactful was being hired as holiday help for Crabtree & Evelyn, a small nationwide retailer that sells fancy bath and body products.
I say “impactful” because what I experienced there as a temporary employee instilled a sense of loyalty to the firm that affected the next five years of my life. After subsequent moves to other states, I twice applied and got permanent positions with the local stores.
So how did they create that kind of loyalty? It began with the temp job. For this firm, it was all about good training and good treatment, even for temps. We were treated as warmly as the regular staff, and were made to feel that our actions had a direct impact on the success of the company.
They did several things right in regard to training. First of all, they knew their employee demographics well and customized the training accordingly. We were all young adults without much job experience so the training was creative, with fun ways to help newbies learn about their products. For example, we would play games testing our knowledge of product ingredients using funny mnemonic devices, such as singing pop songs with new lyrics describing product info. More experienced employees were paired with temps to shadow and mentor, which led to a greater sense of teamwork. Additionally, we were frequently given sales challenges and the results were tracked daily. Successes were acknowledged with much ballyhoo and high spirits.
Even though I held the lowest position at the store, it was the best job I’d had in my young life. Though I was sad when the season came to an end, I was later able to leverage the skills I had learned to win permanent positions at the company's other locations, eventually even gaining a promotion into management.
Pool retailers would do well to instill that kind of employee enthusiasm. Which employee training tools have you found to be effective?