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Peak Performance for Peak Times

by LJM Group

“We live and we die by time, and we must not commit the sin of turning our back on time.”

– Chuck Noland

In the celebrated 2000 film, “Castaway”, Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Noland, a time-obsessed FedEx executive who literally lives by the clock, troubleshooting shipping problems while contemplating the more abstract concepts of logistics.

As a real-world college biology student, Samantha Lopez joined UPS as a driver helper during peak season, hoping to attend medical school, aided by the company’s tuition reimbursement program.  Over time, she saw potential for growth, and 17 years later, she had progressed through 10 positions, feeling empowered and rewarded with each new opportunity. She loved the many different career paths offered at UPS and was eager to try new roles.

Both Samantha’s and Hanks’ characters found meaning, purpose, and happiness in the field of logistics. How can managers create that same passion in a compressed time frame, in an era when demand for seasonal/peak workers is at unprecedented levels?

The Quest for Workers

Recruiting seasonal help for shipping can be a critical step in ensuring smooth operations during peak periods. Income and training are two of the most-cited motivational factors identified by seasonal or peak job seekers, and companies must be able to determine a competitive wage or hourly rate to attract qualified candidates, which starts with researching prevailing rates in their local area. Also, they should consider offering additional incentives, such as performance-based bonuses or employee discounts.

As another inducement, employers can provide valuable job training relevant to their temporary staff. Managers should consider developing a comprehensive training program to familiarize seasonal employees with shipping processes, safety protocols, and any specialized equipment they will be using. Generate interest with potential hires by offering on-the-job training and providing detailed literature or written reference materials.

Seasonal workers are more likely to be motivated and productive if they feel valued and supported from day one. Managers should encourage teamwork, provide regular feedback, and consider offering incentives or recognition programs to boost morale. They should also plan for employee retention; although most seasonal employees are temporary, some may show potential for long-term employment. Employee retention can also be encouraged by identifying top performers and offering the possibility of extended or permanent positions if they align with business needs.

A well-planned recruitment process, combined with effective training and a positive work environment, can help attract and retain quality seasonal workers for peak season staffing needs.

Creating the Repeat Employee/Customer

Workers can be motivated to return to seasonal jobs for a variety of reasons. In addition to income, seasonal jobs often offer flexible working hours and schedules, which can appeal to workers who have other commitments or responsibilities. Students, for example, may take on seasonal jobs during summer break to earn money, while still making time for leisure or studying during the rest of the year. Scheduling flexibility allows them to balance work and personal life effectively. The temporary nature of seasonal jobs can also be appealing to workers who prefer short-term commitments. Some individuals may not be able to commit to year-round employment due to personal circumstances or other obligations. Seasonal work allows them to have a temporary job without long-term commitment.

Managers should consider that some individuals are drawn to seasonal jobs because they enjoy the specific activities or industries associated with certain seasons. For example, agricultural work during harvest season or lifeguarding during the summer may attract individuals who have a genuine interest in those fields or enjoy the outdoor aspects of the work. In logistics, a legal services or business student may be drawn by a desire to develop and manage contracts, or study international law. Managers can teach how the seasonal nature of these jobs aligns with the personal interests or preferences of workers.

Elsewhere, managers can highlight the fact that seasonal or peak activity jobs can provide valuable experience and opportunities for skill development. Workers may choose to return to seasonal jobs to gain additional experience or to enhance specific skills that are relevant to their long-term career goals. This experience can be beneficial for future employment prospects, as it demonstrates a willingness to work and develop skills even in temporary positions. Seasonal work can also introduce workers to new people and industries and provide networking opportunities. Some workers may return to seasonal jobs to expand their professional network and make connections that could lead to future employment or related career opportunities, such as logistics professionals.

Although seasonal jobs may not offer the same stability as full-time positions, some workers find satisfaction in the nature of the work itself. Many find great enjoyment from the job, whether it involves working outdoors, engaging with customers, or participating in seasonal events; a satisfying work experience can be a strong motivating factor for individuals to return to peak or seasonal positions.

Motivations can vary greatly among individuals, and what motivates one person may not encourage another. Factors such as personal circumstances, financial needs, and individual preferences all play a role in influencing workers’ decisions to return to seasonal jobs.

Ultimately, seasonal and peak activity workers may not always turn out to be lifelong or career shipping or logistics professionals like Chuck Noland of Castaway, but they can nevertheless be inspired to make it a productive time in their lives, explore the deeper meaning of logistics science, and contribute to the feeling of empowerment that comes from delivering things people need, on time. 

Sources

UPS, Our Stories. Seasonal Job Turns Into Career. Available at:

https://about.ups.com/us/en/our-stories/people-led/seasonal-job-turns-into-career.html

Logistics Management, Companies Call Out for Seasonal Logistics Staffing. Available at:

https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/companies_call_out_for_seasonal_logistics_staffing._will_they_get_the_help

Paycor, How to Retain Seasonal Employees. Last Updated: November 14, 2019. Available at:

https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/articles/how-to-retain-seasonal-employees/

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