Why it’s worth keeping temporary workers engaged this Christmas

16 December 2021 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

Christmas is fast approaching, and retailers are set for a welcome boost. Savvy shoppers are placing orders for gifts, and companies are preparing to meet the anticipated surge in demand. Vish Baliga, Chief Technology Officer at SAP Fieldglass, explains why companies should make sure they keep their temporary workers engaged this Christmas.

Despite ongoing pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) predicts pre-Christmas spending will reach almost $59 billion, an 11 per cent increase on 2019 pre-pandemic holiday spending.

The increased holiday season workload is often a source of frustration among workers and can cause overextension. With people expected to spread festive shopping more evenly between online and in-store than previous years, smart businesses will ensure they have enough staff in both areas.

Why it’s worth keeping temporary workers engaged this Christmas

With employee shortages across many of Australia’s critical industries, freelancers, contractors and temporary staff have a vital role to play. Although boosting the workforce with seasonal workers is one challenge, keeping them engaged is another. Doing so is vital to meet customer expectations and ensure business continuity in an uncertain climate.

Planning ahead

Competition is high. The hospitality industry in particular has been hit by rolling lockdowns and its reliance on international workers. The Australian suggests there are 85,000 available roles in the sector, up from around 45,000 pre-pandemic. This number is expected to rise even higher as restrictions ease.

With the situation unlikely to change any time soon, Christmas 2022 planning should begin as soon as the current period ends. Successful businesses know their fiscal year targets and objectives, and how temporary, part-time and full-time employees can help achieve them, so it makes sense to spend more time analysing and projecting future spend than researching and reconciling past time.

Intelligent spend management enabled by the cloud makes it easier to manage your external workforce; from onboarding and invoicing through to offboarding and quality review. It also gives you a single, unified view across all categories of expenditure. HR and procurement functions can track workers, evaluate performance and re-engage them when needed.

The technology also provides data related to skills and capabilities, so it’s easier to call on the same people again and/or upskill them for other roles. For example, someone packing goods this year could be sent on an appropriate driving course to allow them to handle deliveries in future. Access to a bank of potential employees is an advantage worth having in the current environment.

First impressions

Temporary workers are increasingly important for business continuity, so treat them as well as your full-time employees. People who feel engaged and cared for are more interested and productive, which is good news for customer experience.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good first impression. A positive hiring and onboarding process, regular feedback, training and access to the right resources all help, as does making contractors feel part of the team with small gestures such as inviting them to staff lunches and meetings. Not only will this make them more likely to stay and succeed, it will also increase the chances of them returning if temporary or full-time roles become available in the future. Don’t forget to thank them at the end of their contract and make their exit as smooth as possible.


The holiday season is a great opportunity to show appreciation to all staff, but successful companies continue to reward and recognise good work throughout the year. With reports predicting many employees will quit jobs in the ‘great resignation’, it makes sense to offer bonuses, vouchers, discounts and other benefits. There are many ways to do it, but make all workers feel appreciated.

A great way to keep seasonal workers focused is by setting clear goals. Be sure to take a moment to recognise workers’ efforts when goals are met. This kind of improved engagement with seasonal workers adds value and creates a pipeline of potential new employees. It’s a strategy that will pay off, as workers who feel valued will make a real difference this Christmas and beyond.