6 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees

For many entrepreneurs, the busiest time of the year has arrived. As customer demands increase, so too do the demands placed on your existing employees. To fill this need, many business owners turn to the unsung heroes of the workforce: the seasonal employees that do everything from man customer service lines to restock shelves.

Of course, seasonal employment isn’t relegated to winter holidays. Accountant firms face increased demands during tax season and summer resort towns have to amp up their employee base to manage tourist-filled days. Regardless of what “seasonal” means to your startup, there are a few things to keep in mind as you increase your staff size with temporary employees.

Start early

You may not feel the impact of seasonality for a few weeks or months, but experts agree that the key to a successful seasonal employment effort is starting early. Why is that? For one, due to a stronger economy and growing job market, some major retailers have been starting their efforts earlier, meaning the pool of potential candidates in some spaces can quickly decrease as time marches forward.

In addition to competing for the most skilled workers, entrepreneurs also must plan for training and a learning curve as both of those things, if not accounted for, can wreak havoc during the busiest and potentially most lucrative time of the year.  

Create a good job description

HR experts the world over will likely tell you that a good job description is key to landing the perfect candidate(s) for any position, but this is especially true for seasonal employment, which isn’t designed to accommodate mass turnover. In addition to the basics, like what the job entails, the hours and days expected, etc., hiring managers should also consider adding any pertinent info that can help match the job with the perfect candidate.

Are there bonuses for staying through the entire season? Will the seasonal job offer the potential for long-term employment? Are there specific requirements that may turn some people off (e.g., late nights and weekends, required overtime, etc.)? The goal is to find the best candidates in a limited period of time. When writing your description, honesty counts; vague or misleading job descriptions will only make the task more challenging than it already is.

Leverage your existing resources

A great way to find seasonal employees is to work directly with your existing employees and fans of your business. If you can, consider offering an employee referral program that can incentivize existing employees to spread the word about seasonal opportunities. It’s likely if you have hardworking employees, so they’ll attract hardworking and reliable candidates.

In addition to your existing employees, you should also consider your loyal customers and fans that follow you on social media. Be it Instagram or LinkedIn (or anywhere in between), sometimes the best way to find the right seasonal employees is to reach out to those who are already supportive of your brand.

Modernize your efforts to match new employee demands

In an article released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Steve Bates discussed a growing trend that has transformed the way many companies, including giants like Home Depot, attract seasonal employees.

One of the leading trends is an expectation for flexible schedules, which are considered highly valuable among millennials, but that’s not all. Cross-training employees, offering reliable and predictable schedules, and even using apps for recruitment or employment can help amp up your seasonal employment efforts.

Don’t cut corners

Seasonal employees may only be with you for six months or less, but that doesn’t mean you can or should cut corners. For employees, this means utilizing an adequate application and onboarding process. You may not need to follow the same process you use for year-round employees, but it should include a thorough training; a full and clear disclosure of expectations, including when you anticipate the temporary employment to end; and thorough review of company policies and procedures as applicable.

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Choose the right classification

Some small business owners may have the option to hire employees or contractors to fulfill seasonal needs. Before you hire either, be sure that your goals align with the expected classification. For example, you may find contractors are more beneficial to the bottom line, but you’ll also lose some control with regards to the expectations you can place on them. Similarly, employees may increase your financial obligations (insurance, overtime, etc.), but you have more control over their work flow and hours. Either way, you’ll need to properly classify them to avoid legal ramifications down the road.

For many startups, seasonal employees are as necessary as the are beneficial. They help bolster your holiday efforts, maintain customer satisfaction and increase revenue. Though they may be temporary additions to your staff, it’s still important to develop a solid strategy that accounts for recruitment and training as well as the new demands and expectations of today’s workforce.

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