In some industries, the need for workers peaks during a particular time of year. Pools need lifeguards in the summer. Pumpkin patches need workers in the fall. Retailers might want to staff up for the holidays, but need few of those workers to stick around come January. Whatever your seasonal need, it can be tricky to hire temporary employees. Follow these best practices to bring in high quality, seasonal workers no matter what you need them for.
1. Don’t Overwork Your Core Employees
Before we jump into the details of hiring seasonal employees, it is important to understand why they may be needed. Seasonal employees are ideal for positions that require little training or expertise, but require a human to physically be present and do the job. Common examples are retail cashiers, farm fruit and vegetable pickers, shipping company logistics, seasonal resort positions, and tour guides.
Some of these jobs may be needed year-round. For example, big box retail stores always need cashiers and UPS always needs people to unload and load trucks. But in the holidays, these companies need far more workers than they do the rest of the year.
You may be tempted to ask your current staff to work overtime, but that may not be ideal, both for financial reasons and for team moral. Instead of making your existing employees take all of the needed extra hours, hiring seasonal help is a great strategy.
2. Balancing Budget and Quality
Overtime hours requires paying overtime wages. When your business is at peak hours, managing your budget is important. Don’t sacrifice customer service for the sake of a few bucks, but do ensure your employment costs don’t get out of control when dealing with seasonal workers.
Start by budgeting for seasonal workers in terms of dollars, then figure out what that translates to in hours. With that information in hand, it’s time to start finding workers.
Remember that hiring is like much else in business: you get what you pay for. If you budget only for minimum wage workers, expect minimum wage quality. If you are able to offer a little more, you are more likely to attract higher caliber seasonal employees. Also, keep in mind that you have to pay taxes and may have other expenses, like insurance and payroll, for each seasonal employee you hire.
3. Make Clear Guidelines
Now you should know roughly what your seasonal employees—or seasonal intern—will do, your budget, and what you can afford to pay them per hour. Now it is time to put together a job description and get ready to hire.
Make your hiring and employee guidelines crystal clear so there is no confusion and you don’t make poor hiring choices. The clearer the job description, the easier it is to hire for that role. A good job description should discourage unqualified applicants and tell anyone what to expect in a day’s work.
Your job description may be published online, added to a print out, or passed out at a job fair. Make sure it is well written, easy to understand, and sufficiently detailed to explain to someone why this may or may not be the right role for them.
4. Join a Career Fair or Host Your Own Event
Now it’s time to hire your seasonal workers! You have a few great options to bring in potential workers for your seasonal needs. Here are a few popular examples:
- Online advertising: Post your position on a site like Craigslist, Monster.com, Indeed, CareerBuilder, or elsewhere to get maximum exposure to job hunters on the internet.
- Career fairs: Buy a table at an upcoming local career fair to meet potential hires in person. Local newspapers, nonprofits, and government organizations are good places to look to find upcoming job fairs near you.
- Hiring event: Host your own job fair when you need to hire workers in bulk. Set up an efficient operation where workers can apply, interview, and get hired on the spot.
There is no right or wrong way to handle this, just try to stay efficient to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t forget your own network as a source for workers too. Friends who run businesses may know workers looking for a temporary job, and nepotism is perfect for bringing on part-time, seasonal employees on the cheap.
Another great option is to incentivize current employees for successful referrals. Offering a $50 bonus or a gift card might be enough to get your existing team exciting about the process, making your job easier.
5. Stay on The Right Side of The Law
However you decide to hire, make sure to stay compliant with all labor laws. Do not hire “contractors” for jobs that clearly require W-2 employees. Read up on child labor laws. Always follow the law to avoid issues that could require paying fines, big legal costs, or could even threaten to shut your business down for good.
Employee labor laws are extensive and can be confusing. If you are unsure or uncomfortable, consider a session with a local labor attorney to ensure you are doing things by the book, or read into laws for your city, state, and the Federal government.
Go Forth and Hire
If your employee needs seasonal labor, you can absolutely tap into the local labor market for great results. If a small investment in labor costs will lead to big results for the bottom line, there is no reason you should avoid or be scared off from temporary hires. As long as you follow the law, your budget, and stick with an efficient and effective hiring process, seasonal workers could be a path to sustainable results year after year. And that is what business is all about.
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