As Christmas approaches, we’re again reminded of the critical role part-time and casual people play in retail.

Part-time and casuals comprise almost 70% of the retail workforce, with nearly 50,000 extra staff expected to come on board this Christmas season. So, it makes good business sense to have Christmas casuals that are engaged, motivated and feel part of the team as quickly as possible. The more integrated your Christmas casuals are, the greater their contribution to stores achieving their budgets.

I’ve interviewed many Christmas casual retail workers over the years, and many have shared how they feel undervalued, little more than a ‘dollar per hour’ commodity. They feel invisible or unimportant because they are only a short-time hire.

Through these conversations, something has become clear to me: Christmas casuals want to feel valued, appreciated, and like they belong.

Here are some tips to help Christmas casuals feel part of the team so they can achieve their potential and the results you are looking for.   

Set expectations of store managers – When a casual doesn’t quite work out, I often hear store managers say, ‘They just weren’t right for the job’. In some cases, this might be true; however, in many cases, I believe that the store managers haven’t embraced their Christmas casuals and see them as more of a stopgap than a valuable asset over a crucial sales period.

Ensure you have set expectations of store managers in how they need to make their casuals feel part of the team as quickly as possible. This should be a key focus if you are having a store manager meeting over the next few weeks.

Set expectations of Christmas casuals – Your Christmas casuals are usually young, and in some cases, this will be their first experience in the workforce. Through the induction process, ensure your Christmas casuals know precisely what is expected—everything from dress code, punctuality and specifically what they need to do when they start their shifts.

Set them up for success: once you have set your expectations, ensure they have been given the necessary training and support to meet them.

Give feedback – Typically, a Christmas casual receives ‘feedback’ by the number of shifts they get. Those performing well tend to get more shifts. Underperformers will be given fewer shifts and are often left confused and unsure why this is the case. Whether they are performing well or not, it is essential to provide productive feedback. Praise them for good work; if they are not doing what you expect, let them know so they can improve.

Make your casuals feel they belong – Aside from the important role store managers play, Area Leaders are crucial in creating an environment for belonging. To the casual team member, the Area Leader is the ‘Big boss’. Those who have worked with me know the value of Area Leader ‘coffee catch-ups’. It may not be practical to take every Christmas casual out for a coffee, but what else can you do to emulate the same experience of feeling valued? Taking time to get to know your Christmas casuals will pay dividends.

Your Christmas Casuals are also your customers – Giving them a great experience working for you will determine whether they will remain customers and advocates of your brand. Many casuals may stay working beyond Christmas, and some may end up having successful careers in retail. When training Area Leaders, I often ask them where they started their retail careers. The answer is often that they entered retail as a Christmas casual.

The more you can appreciate and support them, the more your Christmas casuals will commit to their work, the customers, and your results.