Keeping Distracted Employees Engaged This Holiday Season

The most critical business outcomes for today's organizations are sales/revenue, customer service, and employee productivity, and during the holiday season, these become even more critical for industries like retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation and fulfillment.

"For these organizations, the holiday season can represent almost 30 percent of annual sales," says Theresa Damato, vice president of global marketing at talent management tech company Saba.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers are likely to hire 640,000-690,000 seasonal workers this year. And even organizations that are not directly affected by what Damato calls the "holiday burst," will feel some sort of impact from these seasonal shifts.

"[T]heir employees are impacted nonetheless by online shopping, running errands, and vacation time, which can create productivity and engagement challenges for employees and businesses," Damato explains.

The holidays put a lot of pressure on businesses. Organizations must find, train, or keep employees engaged during a crucial period in a very fast-paced environment.

"Getting new employees on board, productive, and engaged from day one is especially business critical," notes Damato. "Even if employees are seasonal, organizations rely on these employees during what can be the busiest and most crucial time of year, so training and engagement become more important than ever."

The ability to personalize and target information fast can help keep knowledge and updates flowing to the right people at the right times.

"We put employee development and engagement at the heart of everything we do and recognize the need for modern tools for the next generation of users," says Damato.

Modern tools include implementing video, social, and mobile in the learning experience, then adding a layer of integrated real-time feedback to deliver continuous engagement, peer rewards, employee recognition, and positive reinforcement.

For example, The Intelligence Mentor (TIM) is a set of machine learning algorithms that Saba uses to help employers get to know their employees.

"Just like Amazon does for your holiday shopping, TIM does for employees and their development," Damato says. "Instead of manual training assignments, TIM automates and personalizes those experiences for employees and keeps them constantly learning and growing their skills, encourages connections and collaboration, and sets employees on the right path to career goals and growth."

Regardless of the heightened demands of the holiday season, consumers still expect the same levels of customer service, the same quality of experience, and the same speed and efficiency. On top of that, organizations have crews of new employees who must quickly become experts in their fields. Seasonal workers are under intense pressure when it comes to onboarding and skill development. By creating relevant and personalized experiences across training, content, and access to experts, organizations can help temporary employees rapidly get up to speed.

"Making sure employees can quickly and easily learn new skills and stay connected to peers and the business is key during this time," says Damato. "Continuous learning, easy collaboration, and informal knowledge sharing can make that possible."

Simple, flexible training makes it easier for employees to acquire the skills they need as quickly as possible. Social communities facilitate greater knowledge sharing and offer easier and faster ways for employees to ask questions, get answers, find information, and learn from each other. Thus a collaborative, well-trained front line of employees will prepare any organization for the onrush of holiday business