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Tips For Training Seasonal And Temporary Employees

This article, written by Marty Newey, was originally published on Training Industry

At this time of year, many organizations are in the middle of hiring and training the employees that will help to expand their workforce during the holiday season. Additionally, many teams have recently experienced contractions and “right-sizing” of teams, creating a need for them to do more with less. As a result, as training consultants, we’re seeing more organizations hiring temporary contractors when needed to build agility into their teams.

Examples of situations that could call for temporary staff include:

  • Retail hiring of new representatives to meet the demand of the holiday season.
  • An annual sprint to update training that meets compliance deadlines.
  • To develop a new training that manages change during mergers and acquisitions.
  • Internal process updates that require new training to meet adoption timelines.
  • New product release brand and sales enablement training.
  • Temporary support for a specialized design function to augment existing L&D team projects.

Of course, temporary employees must be given the resources to integrate into existing teams. They need a basic onboarding training to introduce them to key processes and help them become effective — quickly.

Read on for insights on building onboarding training specifically designed to increase agility and flexibility. These best practices for training temporary hires are customizable to aid internal learning and development (L&D) teams and human resources (HR) to meet the goals set by organizations hiring temporary staff — whatever the time of year.


There are many key differences in the best practices and measures you must take to onboard short- and long-term temporary employees. Of course, the primary difference is usually that you have less time to prepare your new hire to perform to capacity.

That difference doesn’t have to be a silo or a stumbling block, however. You can plan ahead for temporary hiring by curating your training materials and adding microlearning and digital options to enhance your training. While it may be tempting to use your existing onboarding training content, doing so may be too much needless information for a temporary hire. Instead, use the following checklist to update and plan your onboarding training materials.

You could also follow these steps when you haven’t had much lead time on an unforeseen project, and still get measurable results.


For accelerated onboarding, we recommend narrowing your curriculum and timeline. You’ll need shorter, more specific skills training modules. Plan also to make learning collaborative and experience-based. Budget approximately 1-2 weeks of training time, with some of that performed on the job to improve productivity, engagement, learning and retention.


Map the skills your temporary employee will need and the processes they will be tasked to complete. Focus your training on the “what” and “how” employees will do their job, rather than the “why.” Emphasize training for tasks that are simple and easily repeated to help hires learn the basics. The goal is to simplify so that employees reach mastery in just a couple of days without much need to make decisions or ask for help. If you’re training for more nuanced tasks, give an overview of how they impact the bigger picture so that they care about getting it right.


Depending on the learning audience and their tasks, you can decide whether you should combine on-the-job (OTJ) training with instructor-led training (ILT) to decrease overall seat time. This approach allows learners to try our new skills right after seeing the demonstration, which allows for faster skills absorption, immediate opportunities to ask any questions and greater retention through practice.


Provide new hires with visual job aids and resources. Use easily downloadable, mobile-friendly content such as webpages and PDFs. Include short microlearning animations and videos if you have them. If you don’t, use handouts. These materials should be designed to provide the resources learners need to develop skills and draw refresher information before escalating any questions. Additionally, build into the job aids information about how to escalate questions when needed. Your new hires need to know who to get information from, how to find what they need and what should be escalated (particularly for customer service representatives).


Remember that the most effective approach is to use temporary workers and contractors to complete simple tasks, freeing up your full-time (permanent) team to do the more complex work. Onboarding should be localized and task-oriented, and include repetition to support learning retention and experience. In some teams, having a full-time employee provide quality control is part of the process. Consider dedicating a staff member to this role if it makes sense for your team.


If your organization uses temporary hire employees to scale up, add skills and capabilities and create greater flexibility and efficiency, you’ll want to create a specialized onboarding training program. Your learning program should be shortened, task-oriented and localized, and make use of microlearning and on-the-job resources to create experience-based opportunities for training. These best practices will shorten your onboarding seat times to productivity, make staff augmentation more seamless and effective and improve overall outcomes. Additionally, these practices are useful for seasonal employees as well as temporary staff needed any time of year.