Incentive Ideas for Short-Term Employees

When bringing employees onboard for what you know will be a short time period, there is often little attention paid to incentives. Whether they are working on a seasonal basis, covering the duties of an employee on medical or maternity leave or helping out during a particularly busy time, these individuals play a key role in keeping the company going – and profitable. It’s fitting, therefore, that they be rewarded and incentivized just as if they were a long-term employee. That means going beyond the paycheck and finding ways to recognize them for their contribution.

When dealing with incentives for short-term employees, the focus must be on goals that can be achieved practically immediately. The process cannot be dragged out over months, as would be the case with long-term (“permanent”) workers. It falls to you, therefore, to quickly determine what motivates these critical short-termers. Your goal should be to figure out what will get these individuals excited about working for you. The next step is to set attainable goals that will drive them to exceptional performance over a period of weeks or possibly months, depending on how long they are going to be working for you.

Let’s take a look at a few proven approaches:

1) Bonuses – For the moment, set aside everything you’ve heard about people being motivated by challenging work or the opportunity to make a difference. By and large, people want cash – cold, hard cash. The opportunity to achieve financial gain is often all it takes to motivate someone to go the extra mile. This is particularly true for short-term employees. Due to the nature of their working pattern, they are typically not eligible for long-term incentives. They may also find themselves with down time between assignments. Therefore, a little extra cash in the piggy bank may be exactly what they need.

2) Gift Cards – One of the easiest incentive programs to implement, gift cards present the opportunity to reward employees on-the-spot for a job well done. Launching such a program is remarkably simple: Just buy a few gift cards for local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, etc. Establish goals or organize contests for which employees will be rewarded with the cards.

3) Paid Time Off (PTO) – While short-term employees are only going to be with you for a limited amount of time, the opportunity to receive a few hours off with pay is a valued one. This is especially true when dealing with seasonal workers who may be putting in ridiculously long hours during the holidays or over the summer. The opportunity to have a day off may be just what they needed to complete their Christmas shopping, spend a relaxing day at the local water park, or simply unwind. Since short-term workers are not otherwise eligible to earn PTO, this kind of incentive often results in much happier, more productive employees.

4) Team Awards – All too often, temporary workers are not viewed as part of the team. That is a huge mistake, particularly in today’s teamwork-oriented workplaces. Offering team-based awards (and including short-term employees in the equation) will help workers feel more accountability and will increase the workplace camaraderie, as both long-term and short-term employees motivate and encourage each other. Such incentives can be especially valuable should that individual end up coming onboard as a long-term employee following their short-term stint.

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