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In The Bloom with Maria: Poorly trained help can cost you in many ways

In The Bloom with MarinaYou survived Valentine’s Day once again. But there are more holidays on the horizon—namely Easter, Administrative Professional’s Day, and Mother’s Day—that are big business for the floral industry.

So what did you learn after Valentine’s Day? Did you have enough inventory? Did customers have enough room to browse the store and not feel crowded or rushed? Did deliveries go as planned? How was the seasonal help during the mad rush?

It’s the latter topic that I want to address here. Temporary workers are key in this business, providing valuable hours during peak times. However, just having temporary workers on hand doesn’t mean everything goes smoothly. You want temporary workers who perform well, fit in with the rest of the staff, and are dependable.

According to an article by the Society of American Florists called “Two Tips for Stronger Seasonal Help,” there are a couple of different ways to help make that happen, and we’ll walk through them here. The effort involves both you and your employees, but in the end, everyone will benefit.

Proper training

It doesn’t matter if the temporary worker will be on site for a few days or a few hours. He or she should receive a list of duties expected to be accomplished—and be properly trained on how to perform those duties. And this should be done every time for every temporary worker. Don’t expect him or her to remember everything that needs to be done, nor how to properly do them.

Temporary workers should shadow full-time staff to learn how to perform tasks correctly and safely. A lot of the inventory we work with in this field needs gentle care. Presentation is a key factor, as well, so rough handling of flowers or reckless driving on those delivery trips can negatively impact business.

Also, make sure each temporary employee has step-by-step instructions of the process for every task. This will soon become second nature, but in the beginning, this will help ensure no steps are missed.

Keeps tabs on performance

You probably have a go-to list of temporary workers you seek in times of need, right? Why do you choose those particular individuals? They’re good workers who don’t put the business or profits at risk, right?

Do you keep an updated list of productive temporary workers on file, or is it in your head? Your temporary employee list should be either written down or in a file on your computer. You want something you can access and scroll through quickly to get the help you need fast.

On that list, rank the temporary help on a scale of your own choosing. You clearly want the higher-ranked help to come in if available, and the ranking allows for anyone to easily make that decision when consulting the list.

However, don’t make the ranking solely based on your opinion as the business owner. Ask all of your full-time staff to weigh on the effectiveness of temporary employees. After all, they probably have the most day-to-day experience with the hired help.

Some topics to rank for each temporary employee include:

  • Work ethic
  • Demeanor
  • Dependability
  • Appearance
  • Customer care
  • Quality skills

With Valentine’s Day behind us and more holidays ahead of us, are you planning on bringing back any prior holiday help? If you haven’t evaluated any seasonal workers from Valentine’s Day and are going to bring them back for Mother’s Day, you should make that a priority.

Training means a safer workplace, too

Whether your temporary workers are new or have worked for you before, make sure they have complete training before sending them out on the road or behind the design table.

Training is important to get tasks done and keep customers happy. But there’s more to it than that. It’s also about safety and keeping possible workers’ compensation costs down.

Inexperienced help that is unfamiliar with safe handling of a floral knife and asked to green for the very first time or a young driver who thinks driving and texting are simultaneous activities, for example, need to be instructed about these and other safety issues.

Even if they will only be in your shop for a few days or on the holiday itself, injuries on the job can happen and lead to workers’ compensation claims that, ultimately, can cost you holiday profits.

If you need any other tips on hiring temporary help and keeping them safe, be sure to contact your Hortica agent.