By David Allen,

Hiring Great Seasonal WorkersIf you have a “busy” season, you might be tempted to simply hire for quantity vs. quality when bringing on seasonal workers.  However, this could lead to trouble.  If you do not take the time to properly source, hire and onboard your seasonal workers, you could easily isolate your customers, lose business, lower your workers’ productivity and (generally) lose money.

In a way, hiring seasonal employees can be one of the most important things you do.  These workers come onboard to help you run your business during your most profitable time of the year.  For example:

  • Barnes &  Noble approximately makes 30% of sales and 90% of operating income during the 4th quarter
  • 1-800 Flowers reported to CNN that they do about 10% of their annual sales in the run-up period to Valentine’s Day.
  • GameStop derives much of its sales during the holiday period.  During this last holiday, that amount reached $2.88 billion.

So if you business experiences some level of seaonality (and over 80% do), you will probably have to bring in help during your peak season – whenever that might be.  Here are 5 tips to remember:

Take the time to write and maintain quality job descriptions.

Just because a person will work with you for only a short period of time does not mean that their job description should be 3 years old and only dusted off when you need to hire.  Customers do not know (nor do they care to know) which one of your employees is short-term. Therefore, the first step in ensuring a quality seasonal hire is to write a quality job description.   If it is done correctly, it will help you greatly in your hiring process, because it can work as “road map”, laying out the qualities that a best-fit candidate should possess.

Look for channels that can provide candidates who ONLY want to work for a particular season. 

For example, college placement offices can work well to attract college students on summer holiday or winter break  who only want employment during these particular times.  In many cases, college students are off from school longer than many of us think.  For example, here in Texas, many college students begin summer break by the 2nd full week in May. In California, students in the CSU system do not typically start back to school until the 3rd full week of January. This makes them excellent seasonal employees for both winter and summer positions.

Look at previous years’ employees

When you hire, keep in mind whether or not the person will want to return for another season.  This can be especially true for those employees who for jobs around the Christmas holidays.  Many people look for seasonal work during this period because they want the extra money for shopping, etc.  Leveraging this channel will streamline your hiring process; thereby, reducing costs for both the process and for any potential bad hires.

Onboard, onboard, onboard

A very common mistake is to force to begin with very little training.  It is true that most seasonal work is about flexibility vs. highly technical skills, but (at some level) these employees (as ambassadors of your brand and business) need to “onboarded” and trained in order to represent your company well and serve your customers outstandingly. They should be held to the same high standards as your regular employees, and they cannot do that if they are not trained properly.

Do not forget the law

If you are hiring employees (seasonals or otherwise) you must still provide certain benefits by law.  They vary by state, but can include unemployment benefits, FICA, FUTA and workers’ compensation.  In addition, seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees.

Finally, do not forget that the various labor laws that cover harassment, discrimination and workplace health and safety apply to seasonal workers just as they do to any other employee.

For more information, please visit the US Small Business Administration’s website.

Feeling overwhelmed right now?  If so, you are justified.  Finding the right people to fill empty positions within your organization can be costly and time-consuming.  When you are able to partner with a quality, reputable staffing partner, such as Snelling, both your hiring costs and other intangible costs (satisfaction level, cost of time, etc) are greaty reduced.  You focus on your business, we focus on finding the right seasonal candidates to best represent your business.

NOTE:  A full-color downloadable PDF is available.