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Driving Hourly Holiday Employment: Financial Instability, Career Progression, Economic Uncertainty

Axonify’s 2022 State of the Seasonal Worker Report finds frontline workers are leveraging seasonal work to get their foot in the door, progress their career.
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While the majority (81%) of seasonal workers say economic uncertainty is the main reason they are pursuing seasonal work, more than half (59%) took a job because they are considering a total career change and see a chance to test new opportunities. That’s according to a new survey by Axonify, a leader in frontline employee training and communications.

Among the 1,500 U.S. frontline workers surveyed across retail, grocery, hospitality, food and beverage, and finance and insurance industries, four in five (79%) say they face a financial burden because of the economic downturn, with more than a quarter (28%) of those currently in seasonal positions having recently been laid off.

While unemployment has forced some into seasonal work, lack of pay and the need for more financial stability are also key factors for taking on these jobs. Nearly three in four (73%) workers revealed they don’t make enough money at their current job or need extra income to pay off debt (68%). Nearly two in three chose seasonal work because additional hours weren’t available at their regular job (61%).

In addition to seeking out higher pay, more than half (59%) of frontline workers are taking on seasonal work as a way to test new career opportunities. An additional 43% are using their seasonal position as a way to get their foot in the door in another department or role within their organization, while 31% see their seasonal role as a training opportunity.

Employers, however, are not on the same page as seasonal workers when it comes to training and development. While one in four (24%) employees spend up to five days training for the job, many employers are providing narrow training programs. In fact, two-thirds of employees say they’ve received two days or less of training, which doesn’t leave room for learning beyond basic assignments.

Seasonal workers are also being asked to do more than show up at work and provide positive customer experiences. Given that the holiday season can be a high-pressure scenario with increased stress and tight budgets, there are more opportunities for hostile experiences where lack of employee training can have serious consequences. Four in five (81%) seasonal workers feel the workplace is more dangerous and hostile, with 59% experiencing customer conflicts and issues daily. Despite this increase in hostility, nearly two-fifths (37%) have not been trained at all to deal with a dangerous or challenging event. For instance, 55% have no training for riots or protest events and 39% have no training to handle hostility or workplace violence from customers or coworkers.

“Getting seasonal hiring right is crucial to the success of frontline organizations during the holiday season,” said Carol Leamen, CEO of Axonify. “While many organizations invest in training and development programs for their seasonal workers, more work needs to be done to truly prepare frontline workers for their seasonal jobs, especially as it relates to hostile work environments. For employers, this means investing in training programs that focus on the specific needs of their employees and accounting for every possible scenario this holiday season.”

Additional survey findings also revealed: 

  • Employers must consider compensation, benefits and perks as one package because workers expect all three in today’s hyper-competitive business world. Nearly half (45%) of seasonal workers want flexible time off, while 24% expect medical and wellness support and 23% want discounts on products and services.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of seasonal workers have taken on additional work to supplement income from other full or part-time work, but a majority (66%) believe they could be on track for permanent employment beyond the season.
  • When it comes to learning and training deployments, companies still prefer the more traditional route: 72% worked with a manager or peer during training, 62% used a manual or resource book, while 59% hosted in-person sessions. However, the use of digital training tools is growing with half of trainees using personal mobile devices or laptops (48%).

For more information on what seasonal workers had to say, download the full report, please visit LINK.

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