It’s never too early to start thinking about hiring seasonal help. The earlier you can strategize securing part-time seasonal help for when you need it, the better. That way, you won’t be left short-handed.
Hiring seasonal employees can be competitive no matter when your busy season is. For example, if your busy season hits during the summer, you’re likely competing for the same pool of high school and college students looking for a summer job. If it hits during the holidays, be prepared to compete with major corporations like UPS, Amazon and Target for part-time seasonal hires (as it’s also the busiest time of the year for them).
Here’s are some things to consider when looking for seasonal employees.
Does My Business Even Need Seasonal Employees?
Seasonal workers are typically classified as those who are employed for six months or less at the same place every year. If your business is any of the following, you likely have relied upon seasonal employees before:
- If your business is weather-dependent, such as if you do most of your business in summer or winter months, or you operate outdoors (i.e., landscaper or contractor business).
- If your business is tied to something seasonal, like a sports season or when taxes are due.
- If your business tends to rise at a certain time of year. For example, retailers tend to be busiest during the holiday season, and wedding photographers will be in most demand during the spring and summer.
If you didn’t use seasonal workers last year but were short-handed at a specific time, examine the reasons why and determine if it’s likely to happen again the following season. If this is your first year in business, research if others in your industry rely upon extra help at a certain time of year. Use the insights you learn to get ahead of the game.
How Do I Go About Hiring Seasonal Help?
Since a seasonal employee only works for a few months at a time, you may find it easier to hire people who are currently not employed full-time, but could use the extra cash they can get working for you. Consider reaching out to the following groups:
- High school and college students, especially those studying in a field related to your industry
- Stay-at-home parents
- Professionals who work jobs at different hours than the times you’d need them (like bartenders for when you need to hire for day work)
When posting job openings, try to tap into your own network as much as possible. Leverage your social media profiles (both personal and company) to spread the word that you are hiring. Some job postings require payment, so to minimize costs, it helps to tap into your own network first.
How Do I Attract and Retain High-Quality Seasonal Employees?
According to the April 2018 Jobs Report by the National Federation of Independent Business, the top issue small business owners faced was finding qualified workers to fill job openings. While offering competitive pay and benefits is a great place to start to attract and retain quality employees (part-time or not), you may find it hard to compete on pay and benefits with large companies. Concentrate on making your business well-known as a great place to work by keeping your current staff happy and encouraging them to leave reviews on job posting sites.
When deciding when to start actively recruiting for seasonal roles, keep in mind that it may take longer than you expect to find the right candidate. Use last year’s hiring process as a benchmark if possible, but if you haven’t done much hiring before, a good rule of thumb is to expect it to take about three weeks to fill a part-time position. However, keep in mind that the amount of time it takes to fill a role can differ widely by industry (you can see a full breakdown here).
Proper training of part- and full-time employees has many benefits for your business. Employees feel more confident and capable and take pride in their work. The likelihood of mistakes decreases. Customer satisfaction remains steady.
Ask your current employees for input on how much training is needed for a specific task. Create a written handbook (and possibly a training video library) that seasonal employees can access if they need a reminder about how things are done.
Encourage a culture of asking questions when needed. Consistently gather feedback from seasonal employees about the training process, so you can improve your training process for future seasons.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of competition for seasonal employees these days. Think about how you can decrease turnover and motivate those seasonal employees to work for you again next season. This will help you decrease recruitment costs next season.
Pay an attractive salary. Depending on how long the season is, consider offering paid time off. If you can afford to, give your seasonal employees a hiring (or end of season) bonus. Don’t forget that even relatively smaller perks can go a long way – for example, offering discounts for certain products or services. Make scheduling as flexible as possible, so your seasonal employees can work when it’s best for them.
Treat seasonal employees with respect and care. Invite them back for the next season if they were good workers. Create a referral process with rewards, so your seasonal employees can recruit their talented peers on your behalf.
Pay and Benefits for Seasonal Employees
You have a few options for how you classify your seasonal employee hires. You can hire them as a:
- Contractor, which is a self-employed worker. You are not required to offer contractors benefits. Independent contractors can save you money, since you don’t have to pay them benefits, but you must let them do whatever work they deem necessary in order to complete the task you hired them for. Independent contractors are paid a flat fee for the job and pay their own expenses needed to get the job done.
- Part-time employee, which means you get to set the employee’s hours, decide where they’ll work, mandate when work will be done, and provide the tools and equipment needed to work. Part-time employees are paid a guaranteed wage per hour or weekly salary. You can still save on paying full-time benefits by hiring part-time employees, and you get more control over the work being done.
Depending on your business model, hiring seasonal help as independent contractors may be impossible — for example, if you’re setting their hours and giving them a specific way to work. In some cases, hiring independent contractors may work for you and be more cost-effective. You can set a flat fee and not have to worry about managing the contractor as they’re working.
Check your state’s business laws and work with your business attorney for more information on how to classify and pay the seasonal employees you hire, as well as for insights on best practices for creating hiring contracts. You don’t want to make a legal mistake with big costs as you navigate seasonal hiring.
Whenever your busy season is, make sure you’re prepared with high-quality seasonal hires. If your business relies on seasonal worker help, you must optimize your recruiting and retention efforts to keep your talent pool wide. Consider looking into short-term financing as an option to ramp up before your busy season takes off.