So many volunteer staff are worth their weight in gold and do a sterling job, however staffing issues such as absenteeism, late notification of unavailability and poor timekeeping can cause stress to Event Managers when you least need it. This post focuses on some ways to try to encourage and develop a pool of dependable casual staff.
Engage Staff with an Interest in the Industry
Work experience is vital for anyone that wants to succeed in the events industry and many are desperate for relevant opportunities to develop their CV. It makes sense to employ passionate people that want a true insight into the world of events, rather than those that just need the money and quickly realise that events are not always as glamorous as they seem!
If the work you are offering has some relation to the individual’s future career aspirations you are more likely to receive maximum commitment. You always get the best out of people with a passion for their work.
Offer volunteers and staff assisting on live events a personal letter thanking them and acknowledging the role and tasks undertaken which can then be included in their portfolio. For regular volunteers and casual staff make it clear that you are happy to give a reference. If they make a good impression they could even be considered for any permanent posts that come up within your organisation.
Ways to Retain Casual Staff
Pay Above Average
You may not have this freedom but if you can pay above the average or minimum wage, even slightly, this will help inspire greater commitment and motivation.
Ensure Proper Breaks
However pressurised the event and even if you will not get a break yourself it is important that your staff have time out. This will not only help to ensure their welfare but it will hopefully give them time to absorb the event they are a part of, which can often be quite awe inspiring!
You would be surprised how much the little touches can mean to people. This may be simply saving some cake for them, letting them keep their event t-shirt or uniform, handing them an event goodie bag at the end of the day or ensuring they personally get to meet a speaker or performer at the event.
Try to Utilise Strengths
You have a set role in mind however if you can find out, encourage and develop a person’s particular interests within the event environment this will be rewarded. For example if you have a budding photographer, film maker or social media superhero in front of you, you may be able to use their skills and ideas somehow in future projects.
Brief Staff Fully
It is important to brief staff so they understand their role and what is expected of them. This will also help to take some of the anxiety away for them. It can be quite daunting being part of a large event and not everyone in the events industry is confident and outgoing, particularly if they are just starting out.
Before the day we always talk through and/or send a briefing document about the event detailing important information and try to think about any key questions they may have. This will include practical and logistical information such as what to wear, directions and public transport information, who to ring in case of problems, which entrance to use and who to report to. We also outline their anticipated tasks with a chronological timeline of the day and their responsibilities.
Reward Reliable Event Staff
You need reliable staff. Reward dependable staff by ensuring they are on the A-list and ensuring they have first refusal of any additional shifts that come up.
Understand the Role
To be a rounded Event Manager, you should experience all elements of your event and the different challenges team members face. To do this you need to spend some time in different areas, such as behind the registration desk and serving refreshments. This ensures that you gain a different perspective and truly understand the role every member of staff is undertaking and the traits required by that task. Every single element of your event contributes to the final tapestry. Lead by example and show how you expect each role to be approached but also take heed of the rich feedback this opportunity gives you.
This is difficult when casual staff and volunteers often join the team for short periods and at pressurised times, however try to develop team spirit and the sense of achievement that working together effectively creates.
Value Their Feedback
Let staff and volunteers know that you truly value their thoughts and ask for and listen closely to their feedback and suggestions. Your team will often hear insights from guests and attendees which is vital honest feedback you are not aware of and may inspire ways to do things better and differently in future.
Recognition and Praise
Event days are often long and hard. Thank the team and feedback praise from the client, attendees and so forth. Try to ensure staff leave on a high and feeling proud of their contribution!