This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Hiring seasonal employees can stabilize a company’s bottom line during their busiest times of the year. Many employers need such workers to supplement their current workforce when customers and sales are at their highest. If you operate within an industry that typically requires hiring seasonal workers, plan your workforce needs throughout the year. Follow these best practices.
Step 1: Start Recruitment Early
Regardless of whether your busy season is in the summer, during the holidays, or when the snow hits at the ski resort, your company has competitors for these seasonal workers. Beginning the hiring process early in your season is essential, as there is not always enough help to go around.
If you wait too late to start the hiring process, you may find yourself short-staffed during the time you need the support the most. A suggested timeframe to begin looking for employees for your seasonal jobs is at least two to three months before you wish to fill the role. This will allow you time to review resumes, conduct interviews, and train new employees.
Step 2: Develop a Seasonal Worker Pipeline
Many employers who hire seasonal workers each year can develop a worker pipeline—where many of the same employees return from season to season. Not only are former employees easy to rehire, but they are already trained and understand their seasonal roles.
There are ways to court the seasonal workers you would like to see return to the workplace during seasonal spikes:
- Treat them with a spirit of value: Many seasonal workers are used to feeling disposable since their average time with a company is brief. Be the employer that stands out—and they will return.
- Offer season-ending bonuses: Offering a bonus of any size will be remembered. This rule applies to all industries, whether you are managing an orchard, childcare service, construction company, food service business, or holiday retail shop.
- Check in early: Do not wait until your busy season is taking off to touch base with last year’s top-performing seasonal workers. By contacting them early, you give them time to arrange their schedules so they can work for you again year after year.
- Provide special arrangements for top performers: If you have identified seasonal workers that you simply cannot live without, offer the best shifts or a slight raise for their returning experience.
Step 3: Create a Clear Job Description
A clearly written job description that outlines the role and how its seasonal status relates to other types of employment at the company will help define its purpose. In addition to the specifics of the job, include the following in your job description:
- Seasonally related language: Use relevant keywords such as “seasonal” and “temporary” and indicate the job’s timeframe.
- Benefits and perks: Most seasonal jobs do not have conventional healthcare benefits, but may have other perks, like product discounts and holiday bonuses. Be upfront with what is and is not offered with the job.
- Skills and requirements: As with any job description, describing the purpose of the seasonal role, requirements for the job, and the skills needed are all critical to a complete job description.
For help creating a seasonal job description visit our article on How to Write a Job Description + Free Template.
Step 4: Write a Compelling Job Ad
A job ad, a condensed version of the job description, quickly highlights the position’s duties, location, hours, and pay rate. It should be compelling and stand out from the other ads offering similar opportunities. Adhere to these tips to create the best job ad:
- Describe your company
- Clearly outline the timeframe of the position
- Highlight important job responsibilities
- Define the location for the position
- Outline the hours required
- Include the hourly rate
- Include a “how to apply” section
For help creating a seasonal job ad visit our article on How to Advertise a Job in 4 Simple Steps.
Step 5: Use a Variety of Recruitment Methods
Knowing where to find seasonal workers can be a challenge as it may be difficult to find them by only posting on general job sites. Although you can find some seasonal-related employment ads, job seekers have to work a little harder to ensure they are looking at seasonal jobs and not regular or longer-term positions.
There are specific job boards and other resources you can tap into when looking for seasonal workers. They are not all the same and target different worker groups with different goals, needs, and earning expectations.
- Current employee referrals: To attract new seasonal employees to your organization, consider employee referrals. In many cases, your employees have acquaintances that may need extra hours during the holidays or throughout the summer (this is when students are temporarily entering the workforce).
- Mobile platforms: Seasonal workers (especially minors) utilize mobile platforms to locate job opportunities. These workers are typically tech-savvy and primarily use mobile apps and mobile-optimized sites to connect with would-be employers.
- College and university job boards: College or university job boards reach thousands of potential candidates. These job boards include all work types, but one of the largest categories found is seasonal work.
- Career pages: Your career page is an important tool during your peak season. Many workers will check company career pages to locate seasonal opportunities ahead of time.
For access to over 100 job boards, consider using a traditional job posting site, like ZipRecruiter. It allows you to post jobs in minutes, and you’ll get access to free job description templates.
Step 6: Onboard Seasonal Workers
Onboarding seasonal workers is just as important as onboarding your regular employees. It provides them with the knowledge and skills to successfully perform their job.
Develop a simple and easy-to-maintain program that onboards your seasonal workers quickly and efficiently. Some tips to make things go smoothly include:
- Prepare new hire paperwork: Create a new hire checklist to ensure you have all required paperwork before or on their first day.
- Adjust workers’ compensation: Do not forget to adjust your workers’ compensation coverage to accommodate seasonal workers.
- Outline expectations: Be sure to explain the position and train your seasonal employees to be successful at their jobs.
Step 7: Classify Seasonal Workers & Their Overtime Eligibility
Ensuring that you are classifying your seasonal workers properly is every bit as important as classifying your regular employees properly. The Department of Labor requires proper and accurate classification, whether seasonal, temporary, or regular employees. For example, as with all positions within your company, you do not want to classify a nonexempt seasonal position as exempt, which generally exempts the employee within the role from earning overtime.
Most seasonal workers will fall under the category of nonexempt and be eligible for overtime. This is due to the fact that many seasonal employees are part-time employees. However, some will fall under the category of exempt, especially if they are working full time during their seasonal employment or your business only operates during certain times of the year. For example:
- Administrative assistants
- Tax preparers
- Amusement park workers
- Recreational workers (i.e., golf course, swimming pool, summer camp, etc.)
Keep in mind that when you are hiring minors for seasonal positions, there are specific rules that must be followed such as working hours and ineligibility to work hazardous jobs.
Why Companies Use Seasonal Workers
Companies that can be referred to as “seasonal employers” generally require varied employee headcount throughout the year. The nature of their business demands that when seasonal work spikes, they are able to hire quickly and temporarily to cover the needs associated with the seasonal spike. When workers are no longer needed, they are let go.
Many industries commonly utilize seasonal workers each year. Examples include:
- Personal care and services
- Food services
- General office/administrative
- Seafood processing
- Warehousing, transportation, utilities
- Federal government
- Ski resorts
- Swimming pools
- Summer camps
Typically, seasonal workers are hired for a few months at a time. This planned fluctuation of employment results in lowered payroll costs, reduced insurance premiums for the business, and an overall reduction in liability for things like workers’ compensation and benefits.
Hiring seasonal employees can greatly enhance your ability to harvest and process products and staff for heavier workloads during your busiest time of year. Knowing how to find seasonal workers and how best to onboard them can give your company an advantage over your competition.
Start early, keep in contact with top seasonal talent, and make sure you have all your bases covered before putting people to work—and you will make the most out of your busiest and most profitable time of year.