Companies with seasonal production needs face the important task of hiring temporary workers. During peak times, they form an essential component of a high-functionning frontline workforce.
But often, they aren't getting the full support they need to do their jobs well.
While hiring temp workers offers many benefits to businesses with fluctuating demand, it’s also challenging to onboard and train this workforce quickly. In this article, we discuss how knowledge management can help speed up the onboarding process and foster productivity during this critical time period.
The benefits of knowledge management.
Knowledge management is a set of practices that govern the creation, sharing and usage of information within an organization. Knowledge management systems help organizations document, centralize and standardize knowledge and share it effectively.
Knowledge management is especially important for manufacturing companies, as employees need to be trained on best practices surrounding safety and standard operating procedures on the shop floor. Capturing frontline knowledge is also critical to identify productivity improvements and surface problems that may cause machine downtime and other issues.
In the context of temporary hiring, good knowledge management is not only beneficial to the enterprise but also for the worker. More than a third of seasonal workers (31%) in the US see seasonal work as a training opportunity. But according to most HR professionals, it takes around 3 months on average to onboard employees. Shortening the onboarding period is paramount for this seasonal workforce.
How to get temporary workers up to speed.
A knowledge management practice that incorporates a holistic approach to frontline development - supported by better digital tools - can be highly effective. Manufacturers can reduce training time by 31% or more with digital knowledge management. In the sections that follow, we outline ten steps you can take today to hone in on your knowledge management practice and speed up time to competency for your seasonal workforce.
10 tips to give temporary workers what they need.
1. Clearly define expectations.
By setting clear goals and outlining what is expected of them, workers can better understand their role and the scope of the operational knowledge they need to acquire. This clarity helps them focus their efforts and links their training efforts to real tasks. This is an essential component for success at the frontline, and doubly so when a temporary workforce must be brought up to speed as quickly as possible.
2. Provide training materials.
Delivering comprehensive training materials is a key ingredient for successful knowledge management in any industry. But for the seasonal workforce, where timelines are tight, these materials need to be as streamlined and effective as possible.
Digital tools that are specifically designed for use on the frontline (on mobile devices and tablets, for example) empower seasonal and temporary workers to access the correct knowledge quickly and efficiently.
3. Offer orientation.
From a people perspective, everyone needs to feel welcome. But warm and informative orientation is also vital for knowledge management. Take the time to introduce seasonal and temporary workers to the company's culture, values, and overall operations. Help them understand how their role fits into the bigger picture. This step will help them feel valued but also ensures that expectations are clear from the first step.
4. Assign a mentor or buddy.
Assigning a mentor or buddy to seasonal and temporary workers - especially in a production environment - ensures they have a friendly and knowledgeable guide throughout their onboarding. Mentors can share their expertise, answer questions, and provide practical insights that may not be covered in formal training. This mentorship fosters a supportive learning environment and helps workers adapt quickly to their new roles.
Digital tools can also help supplement this role, especially during the busy season when seasonal workers are usually necessary. The best digital SOPs will have integrated expert knowledge from the frontline workforce, and can deliver it to a seasonal or temporary worker on-the-job via tips, warnings, and fixes.
5. Provide on-the-job training.
On-the-job training delivers a three-fold benefit:
- It allows seasonal and temporary workers (or any trainee) to solidify their new skills by applying this knowledge to real-life situations. With a digital platform, you can be confident that this knowledge is up-to-date and accurate.
- By delivering opportunities to practice their skills with guidance, you not only enhance their learning but also build their confidence. This approach helps workers become more self-sufficient and better equipped to handle the demands of their temporary positions.
- Learning-while-doing is proven to reduce the Time-To-Effectiveness for new recruits and trainees. They’re able to pick up speed and become proficient with as little as 50% of the traditional onboarding period.
6. Offer continuous support.
Establish channels for seasonal and temporary workers to seek assistance and clarification. Whether it's a designated point of contact, a helpdesk, or a collaborative digital platform, make sure they have easy access to resources and a responsive support system. This support builds rapport within teams and reassures workers that they are not alone in their journey and encourages them to continuously expand their knowledge.
7. Organize and deliver regular check-ins.
Regular check-ins serve as valuable touchpoints between teams - and can inform leaders on the needs of their seasonal employees. Speaking with employees regularly is a simple, yet incredibly effective, method to assess progress, address any challenges, and offer guidance.
These check-ins also provide a regular opportunity to recognize achievements, provide constructive feedback, and identify any additional training needs. By maintaining open lines of communication, you create a human-focused feedback loop that fosters continuous knowledge improvement and a positive work environment.
8. Document processes and procedures.
In a fast-paced manufacturing environment, having well-documented processes and procedures is crucial. Create clear, step-by-step work instructions and SOPs that outline processes, best practices, and safety protocols. Digital tools can empower knowledge capture at the frontline, ensuring that any improvements to a process can be instantly harvested and reviewed for implementation in your SOPs.
By documenting this knowledge, you create a valuable resource that not only aids seasonal and temporary workers in their daily tasks, but also ensures the distribution of crowdsourced knowledge across your entire organization.
9. Encourage teamwork.
Collaboration is the industry secret sauce for effective knowledge management. Encourage seasonal and temporary workers to collaborate with their peers, share insights, and learn from each other's experiences. Foster a supportive team environment where knowledge is freely exchanged. This collaboration enhances problem-solving skills, encourages creativity, and promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
10. Provide a supportive work environment.
This is the most important step - and involves incorporating each of the above points in order to create a work environment where seasonal temporary workers can thrive. Their lives potentially deliver a lot of new experiences, and expectations for performance and learning can be high.
An inclusive environment fosters collaboration, continuous improvement and growth, and positive mental health. A competent on-the-job training and knowledge-delivery system allows them to access the information they need to get up to speed and deliver results. And better access to better knowledge means that they’ll do their jobs correctly, the first time.
Start driving better knowledge management today.
Whether you’re looking to get temporary workers up to speed or implementing knowledge management for your permanent workforce, better knowledge management software and practices can help you boost productivity by 20% or more. It’s about delivering the right knowledge, where and when it’s needed. And for a temporary or seasonal workforce that might only spend a few months on the job, the clarity of these processes is doubly important.