Many businesses cycle through slow and busy periods, and in some cases, bringing in additional employees becomes a necessity. Hiring seasonal staff can help take pressure off year-round workers, and help a company keep up with increasing customer demands.
Here are six seasonal hiring tips to consider:
Tips and techniques for hiring seasonal workers
To successfully attract and retain seasonal workers, set a plan in place well ahead of the busiest months of the year. During the annual budget period, map out staffing needs for each month and consider the tax consequences of additional hiring of seasonal workers. When bringing on additional staff, remember to think about the bigger picture rather than wait until you're faced with an unavoidable need and then scrambling to add staff.
1. Begin preparing for seasonal hiring well in advance
If you know your busy season starts with the holiday rush in December, you may want to begin preparing at the end of the summer. This is the time to start thinking about questions such as:
- What are your staffing goals for the busy season?
- What types of roles/positions do you need to fill?
- How can you streamline training to be both effective and fast?
- What tax obligations will you have for these seasonal employees?
- What kind of employee benefits will you offer part-time workers?
Beginning to answer these questions early can help you understand your needs before your busy season hits.
2. Use multiple digital channels to hire seasonal employees
Local job boards, your website, and social media can be used to promote the fact that you're hiring seasonal employees. Connecting with potential candidates through multiple channels increases your chances of finding qualified workers. Monique Jennings, Paychex Senior HR Generalist, recommends using message boards at college campuses or junior college campuses to hire seasonal workers. She also directs companies to career services centers for individual campuses when recruiting candidates.
3. Consider hiring your customers
Hiring seasonal employees from your customer base can be beneficial for several reasons. Customers are familiar with your products, and there's a good chance you'll hire employees with built-in loyalty, knowledge, and enthusiasm. Keep in mind the following:
- Loyal customers already love your product and may have some ideas on how to sell it or improve it.
- Current customers are familiar with your company and may easily assimilate into your culture.
- The need for training may be less with new hires who already understand what you do and how your product differs from those of your competitors.
- Chances are you're already connected to your customers on social media, so reaching out to them about job openings is a low-cost and efficient hiring method.
- As fans of your company, their enthusiasm about working for you may be greater than employees hired through alternative methods.
Consider including mentioning your recruiting efforts in any customer-facing newsletters you send out, as there may be individuals within your customer or vendor community who may be interested or able to refer candidates.
4. Ask for employee referrals to fill seasonal positions
Companies often use employee referrals to hire for specialized, high-end, and hard-to-fill positions. They can be a great way to tap into your existing employee network's expertise and connections for seasonal or part-time workers. Employees are often a great source of recommendations because they understand your business and what it takes to succeed. Consider offering a small bonus for employees who refer workers who are hired and successfully remain employed throughout the season. Get the word out by mentioning the open positions in employee meetings, email blasts, an employee newsletter, intranet posts, and/or physical ads that you post in your break room.
5. Host an on-site job fair
Many small businesses utilize jobs fairs and other recruiting strategies for seasonal workers that allow them to connect with multiple candidates at the same time. This can be a great way to dedicate a few hours to meet candidates, conduct on-the-spot interviews, and create a strong pipeline of candidates. Team members can answer questions and conduct the interviews, which further expedites the hiring process.
6. Connect with past employees for part-time seasonal work
Connect with past employees and ask whether they're interested in returning on a seasonal basis. Employees who have moved on to other companies or have retired might be willing to engage in short-term work or pick up an extra shift to help you meet increasing demand. Using your existing network of former employees can help you hire quality workers whose prior performance you already know.
How long should seasonal employment last?
Depending on the nature of your business, the length of seasonal employment may vary. Compliance issues may also play a part in the length of time you choose to bring in extra help. For example, the calculated average of full-time employees throughout the year may affect your ability to qualify for certain small-business tax credits. Businesses in popular vacation destinations may have their "in season" period based on summer vacations in northern beach towns, or during the winter months in the south. Retail businesses may only need extra help for a few short weeks during peak holiday shopping. This means that a business will need to set different timelines for hiring seasonal employees. It's also possible to have more than one busy season. For example, vacation spots may handle a brief but heavy spring break and holiday crowd and then also be busy in the summer. Finding workers willing to step in and out of jobs can be crucial to successful staffing management.
Consider full-time positions after the holiday season
Seasonal hires fill a short-term need, but these hires could also become a pool of potential talent for future open positions. To find great performers, first be sure to define what good performance means to your business. Is it how they deal with customers? Do they need to think on their feet? Determining both the tangible and intangible job-related factors can help you spot talent among these workers. By the end of the season, you may have a better understanding of which people are best suited for a regular position with your company.
Second, be sure to let seasonal employees know that there may be an opportunity for regular employment. It is advisable not to promise it at the beginning to all employees. You can, however, let the great performers know that they may be considered for a regular role as positions open.
As your company grows, keeping up with seasonal hiring may become a challenge. If you need help hiring and onboarding seasonal staff, consult with an expert that can assist with a mix of functions, from recruiting to employee screening and training. Often advanced HR services can be used to link your hiring system to payroll and employee benefits, which ensures the efficient transfer and storage of all employee-related data.