Hiring seasonal staff: What business owners need to know

13 October 2017

A change in season often goes hand in hand with a spike in sales and customers. To meet the increased demand, businesses often need to be prepared to take on additional resource. Whatever the reason for the increased business, those responsible for recruiting must ensure that the onboarding of seasonal staff is managed smoothly. There’s a difference between making a few hasty hires and efficiently recruiting a suitable workforce that’s ready for the challenge ahead.

A change in season often goes hand in hand with a spike in sales and customers. To meet the increased demand, businesses often need to be prepared to take on additional resource.

Whatever the reason for the increased business, those responsible for recruiting must ensure that the onboarding of seasonal staff is managed smoothly. There’s a difference between making a few hasty hires and efficiently recruiting a suitable workforce that’s ready for the challenge ahead.

Need a few extra hands to help you with a seasonal stint? Check out this handy guide on what you need to know about hiring for months when all hands are on deck.

Plan ahead: hire in the long term

There are varying suggested timeframes with which you should plan ahead when it comes to seasonal staff. Some say advertise the job opening one month before it starts, some say three. Others suggest having a hiring strategy mapped out around six to eight months beforehand.

Either way, hiring seasonal staff requires forward planning. Don’t expect many people to get back to you during the last week of November if you need helpers come Christmas time. Some people, like students or stay-at-home parents who work part-time, might be looking to work flexibly. Hiring in advance lets you find the right candidates without having to settle for less impressive applicants.

If you’re really dedicated to planning and hiring in advance, then consider making long term hires. If candidates fit the bill in terms of hard skills, look towards whether they fit into the wider company culture, too. Their capabilities could end up paying off for both of you.

Treat seasonal staff like full-time employees

Temporary or not, your new seasonal hires still represent the company, so through all stages of the process, they should be treated as if they were full-time employees. Include assessments in your applications so you can gauge their personality, knowledge, and competencies appropriately – if you don’t take the time to find the right people, you run the risk of hiring those that might not be a good fit for your company.

Once they’ve been hired, ensure that seasonal staff are valued and involved. Take them for lunch, pair them up with someone that can show them the ropes and give them the opportunities to offer their input and feedback. Whether it’s new ideas or ways to improve, fresh perspectives can help to optimise areas you might not have otherwise given a second thought.

Train and brief them properly

Seasonal hires must hit the ground running. Compared to full time staff, they aren’t given the luxury of leisurely training periods. They’re expected to get to grips as soon as possible, so training them appropriate is doubly important. Getting them up to speed in half the time than your regular employees can be a challenge, but it is possible.

Hiring extra staff to deal with spikes in business is not a trial by fire, but should be met head on with professional training. If you’ve carried out your hiring in a structured way, they’ll be experienced, intelligent individuals who are able to absorb information with ease.

Either way, you’ll need to train them rigorously to make sure they know your product or service inside out; be sure to assign mentors who can support them through the tougher aspects of the job.

Be transparent

During the hiring process, be open and honest with applicants about what the job involves, how long it will last and that – in their capacity as a seasonal worker – they may not be entitled to some of the benefits afforded to full time employees.

In job openings, indicate clearly that this is seasonal work to ensure people seeking full-time opportunities don’t apply, and don’t be afraid to ask them at interview whether the applicant is specifically looking for seasonal work. If they’re just settling for this work since it’s the only opening available, then that will become clear in their work. It’s better to look for someone who’s passionate about what they do, even if it is in the short term.

Also, don’t discount asking about candidates’ professional goals and their interest in permanent work. As noted above, you may find yourself able to turn the seasonal work into a full-time role. Alternatively, if you require full-time workers later down the line, you’ll be able to draw on a proven pool of workers who you know are a fit for your business.

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