Meet & Engage

Recruiting Seasonal Staff – Let Technology do the Heavy Lifting

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We’re only halfway through the year and you’ll likely already be hearing the dreaded C-word – Yes Christmas!

As much as I like to keep my festive blinkers on until at least November 30th, if you are responsible for recruiting seasonal staff to cover the busy period this isn’t a luxury you can afford.

Activity has already started for Christmas and other seasonal events along the way such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Applications are already open for loads of festive retail, driving and picker/packer roles – so it’s clear being quick off the mark is vital. But what are the other essentials when it comes to seasonal volume recruitment, and importantly – what can you do to make the whole process more effective year-on-year?

The festive period is typically peak season for many industries from retail to warehouse management, delivery drivers and marketing teams and so, the extra support from seasonal staff is vital in order for many businesses to keep up with increased workload demand.

Yodel implemented the Meet & Engage Candidate Experience Chatbots over the peak festive season in 2018 and were taking 5,500 applications weekly.

With so many applications, the resourcing team struggled to deliver a candidate experience and so brought in the Meet & Engage chatbots, dialling up their candidate experience to 97% positive.

Read more about Yodel’s story in our case study.

Common themes when it comes to recruiting for seasonal workers:

  • Speed and ease of process matters – if you’re too slow, your candidates will be gone
  • Temp workers will renege on offers for more money, better shift patterns or to work with friends. This is usually the case because their engagement is limited
  • For the time they’re working for your business, they want to feel like a valued employee.

I came across an interesting article from the Metro around recruiting seasonal staff and one paragraph really stood out to me; 

“There’s an urgency to get new staff trained before the Christmas rush begins, but most companies don’t want to invest in the staff before they really need them, so you (seasonal staff) usually get thrown in the deep end. It can be stressful and intense – both physically and mentally – and this can lead to mistakes.”

This is interesting because Christmas is such vital time for many businesses – a bad festive trading period can spell disaster, so surely you need the people working for you at this time to be well equipped and ready to perform?

The challenge is that candidates often drop-out last minute and even if they do start, investing heavily in people who could only be with you for 6 weeks doesn’t feel like a good use of resource.

But this ‘means to an end’ style of recruitment is missing a huge trick.

Just like Christmas shopping, a little focus throughout the year can seriously help to reduce the last-minute panic and expense – and in this case, a long-term approach could get you better people, who are more prepared and engaged, and therefore less likely to be a no-show on day one.

Thanks to Candidate Experience Technology such as Meet & Engage, it doesn’t have to be hugely time-intensive, but the messaging must be considered, relevant and delivered at key moments in order to be effective. To help put that into perspective, here are a few thoughts on how this could work.

Candidate Experience Chatbots

For employers who might see drop off at the apply stage (due to the amount of info required or a clunky ATS apply form), you can use a chatbot to gather candidate details, automatically create a profile and add them into your ATS.

Similarly, you could use an engagement Chatbot as a way of re-connecting; the bot could ascertain their level of interest and deliver engaging content about the opportunities available.

Live Group Chats

Live group events can be used to complement your attraction activity.

Regular sessions lasting around 45 minutes are an ideal way of explaining the opportunities you have and answering questions from prospective applicants – show that you value your seasonal workers and stand out from the competition.

Many of our clients, including npower have utilised the Meet & Engage Live Chat technology similarly and seen fantastic results when it came to assessment centre turnout and the level of applicants who felt prepared.

For your offered candidates, why not also provide high-level onboarding information and Q&A sessions via online group chat – these sessions will result in better prepared and committed candidates who feel more connected to the opportunity.

Using live video streaming adds an extra dimension and level of engagement, and with the sessions being online, they become more accessible for a wide range of people with existing commitments.

The art of the possible…

A few weeks before starting, a link to a Christmas temp specific Chatbot can be sent to all offered candidates.

The bot could walk through essential information (including showing videos, pictures etc) and answer FAQs.

It could also gather essentials like a security pass photo and uniform sizes to make day one as smooth as possible. If a candidate has a question which the bot cannot answer, they could be signposted to a 1-2-1 live chat helpdesk during working hours.


This kind of innovative engagement approach can add real long-term benefits if you don’t turn it off with the fairy lights.

 Let technology take the strain; send a post-Christmas feedback bot to see how your candidates found their experience; would they come back next year? Are they interested in hearing about permanent roles? Are they happy for you to keep in touch (got to stay GDPR compliant!)? What could you do better? – All great intel!

Follow this up with targeted live engagement events between March and June and you’ll find people wanting to return to you each year because engagement was never lost; they feel valued, and the process to come back again is quick and easy.

Finally, let’s not forget your recruiters – by implementing a year-round engagement program for seasonal staff, you will be able to fill these essential vacancies earlier, faster and more cost-effectively.

As a bonus side-effect, your reputation as an employer will be enhanced as well.

All in all – it means less stress and more time to enjoy the finer aspects of the festive period; like deciding what to buy as your secret Santa gift and debating which is the best Christmas movie*.

*The answer is A Muppets Christmas Carol

If you’d like to find out more about Meet & Engage Candidate Experience Technology, including Live Chat and Chatbots, feel free to get in touch with me at or for a hands on look at the technology, book a demo.

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