For many small businesses, such as restaurants and retail shops, hiring seasonal or part-time employees is an ideal way to manage growth. It can be a good strategy for slowly expanding your business, particularly if you aren't ready to commit to the obligations incurred with a full-time staff member. It may offer an opportunity to select from an expanded or diverse talent pool, including individuals who are looking for supplemental income, or others not wishing to commit to a single, full-time position. Additionally, part-time employees can also be perfect for specific job responsibilities, helping overstretched workers, providing flexibility to current staff, and giving your business more agility.
Of course, enjoying the benefits described above hinges on hiring the best part-time employees you can find, and this can be tricky. Here are some approaches to the process that may help increase your odds of success:
Think carefully about what the part-time job entails
Be realistic. Do your goals and expectations fit a job that can be performed within a part-time structure? You're more likely to find the right person if the job duties are best accomplished within a part-time framework.
Use the correct classification
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what constitutes a part-time employee. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes part-time employees as individuals working one to 34 hours per week. Meanwhile, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full or part time employees. Pay attention to not confuse your part-time employees with contractors because misclassification can result in costly penalties.
Many states have different ways of classifying independent contractors beyond what the IRS has classified. Whether a worker is an employee or contractor may be generally determined by the employer's level of control. This includes: 1) if the employer controls how and when the worker does their job, 2) if the employer controls when and how the employee is paid, and 3) the established relationship such as a written contract or use of benefits. Some states and localities may have more stringent laws and regulations regarding the classification of independent contractors. Finally, you also want to make sure that you’re complying with employment laws for all employees. For example, FLSA regulations that may apply to seasonal employees include minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor.
Start the search for candidates by asking for referrals
Asking trusted colleagues in your personal and professional network for a recommendation can help you find a talented individual who may be a perfect fit. Understand that a recommendation whose name came from your aunt or best friend can be more socially complicated than hiring a stranger. Have a "plan B" for how to address the situation if the person doesn't work out.
Use specific wording in the job description
A carefully worded job description and clearly defined roles for a part-time opening is no less important than its full-time counterpart. Spell out in detail the degree of skills and experience the position requires (which may discourage applicants who clearly don't qualify), and emphasize that part-time jobs are important and valued in your business. For example, a restaurant owner trying to find part-time help for the dinner rush won't want to sort through dozens of resumes from first-time wait staff to find the candidates they need.
Be selective with job postings
Some employers mistakenly assume that the best strategy for hiring part-time and seasonal employees lies in blanketing the job postings everywhere they can find. This practice generally results in an avalanche of applications that are far too time-consuming to sift through efficiently. Instead, consider where your ideal candidate is likely to be searching and focus your efforts there. Various small, niche job boards are usually more promising, as are job sites that specialize in flexible and part-time positions. If you need student seasonal workers, consider contacting a school career counselor who can share your posting with a pool of recommended candidates.
A carefully worded job description and clearly defined roles for a part-time opening is no less important than its full-time counterpart.
Offer competitive pay
You may increase the quality of candidates interested in the position if you can offer a competitive wage for the position. Inform the newly hired part-time worker how pay increases may result, such as after regularly scheduled, favorable job performance evaluations. Motivation to work harder should naturally follow.
Offer attractive benefits
Part-time employees may be entitled to overtime pay, unemployment (depending on the state), Social Security, workers' compensation insurance, and short-term disability insurance. Other benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and fringe benefits are up to the discretion of the employer. Offering additional perks can help increase your odds of success in recruiting and hiring part-time employees by both enticing higher-quality candidates and bolstering morale and engagement with your company once your candidate is hired.
Leveraging a third-party service can help you find your best fit and hard-to-find candidates while relieving some of the stress of welcoming new hires.
Ask behavioral interview questions
During the job interview, hone in on open-ended questions that can better predict job performance, such as "How did you prepare for and meet the challenges of working in a high-pressure work environment?" Other questions might include, "Describe a situation where you were left to figure out a solution independently," or "Explain how you have managed in a job with limited resources." These answers can go a long way toward evaluating the candidate's workplace potential.
Don't stop searching
Experts encourage small business owners to always be on the lookout for part-time employees. Have you met a great potential candidate but don't have an open position? Invite them to apply and keep their information on file. Another excellent source is the part-time employees you encounter in your daily life. If someone impresses you, ask that individual to interview for your open position.
Use professional help
From recruiting and applicant tracking to onboarding and compliance, professional HR services can help make your search more efficient. These outsourced services can help you find your best fit and hard-to-find candidates while relieving some of the stress of welcoming new hires.
Finding great part-time employees can be challenging. But the approaches listed above can help you through the process of recruiting and hiring the right individual for the job.