There are many industries that experience peaks and valleys throughout the year. It doesn’t make sense for businesses in these sectors to maintain a full roster of employees during the less busy seasons.
This phenomenon obviously applies to:
- Hospitality, restaurant, and vacation businesses that cater mostly to tourists
- Retailers that need extra staff during the busy holiday shopping season — from Black Friday to New Year’s
It also applies to regular companies that need additional support during the summer months, when their regular employees go on vacation.
However, hiring (and keeping) short-term workers can be challenging. That’s because it’s hard to motivate employees if they realize there are no growth opportunities available. Plus, you have to invest in recruiting and training — usually with little “long-term” payoff.
If any of this looks familiar, here are five tips designed to make hiring (and keeping) seasonal employees a little easier.
1. Create Workflow Systems
Creating templates, checklists, and workflows may not seem like fun — but they can be huge timesavers.
Just think about the process you go through when:
- Updating your catalog every Monday
- Checking inventory every Wednesday
- Settling sales receipts every Friday
If you map each step out carefully enough, you can hand these processes to others with minimal training involved.
Not only do established systems save you time and money, but they can also help reduce redundancies. If anyone quits or calls in sick (which often happens with short-term workers), your operations can continue uninterrupted.
2. Consider a Salary Increase
Most employers are hesitant about increasing their workers’ pay. Yet with unemployment at a 50-year low, you don’t have much choice. To remain competitive and attract “motivated” talent, you may need to increase salaries across the board.
The same goes for benefits. Offering vacation time and health care coverage isn’t always realistic for seasonal workers. However, you can consider sharing perks like overtime or employee discounts.
If you really want to motivate your staff to stay on until the season is over, consider offering “end of contract” bonuses.
3. Explore Flextime and Telecommuting
Flexible work arrangements aren’t suitable for every business type. In retail, for example, employees obviously must be physically present during standard work hours.
Though many businesses lend themselves to work arrangements, such as:
- Flextime — i.e., coming in during “off” hours
- Telecommuting — i.e., working remotely (usually from home)
If you have the leeway to offer these perks to your staff, you should. According to research, flextime and telecommuting can both lead to:
- Happier employees
- Increased job satisfaction
- Greater overall productivity
4. Join the Sharing/Gig Economy
Actively recruiting, training, and staffing employees are all time-consuming endeavors — especially if starting from scratch.
Thanks to the sharing and gig economies, there now exist online platforms designed to streamline the hiring process. Portals such as UpWork and Guru offer unlimited access to a global pool of talented (and motivated) freelancers — all of whom are eager for short-term projects.
Instead of listing open positions on traditional job sites, take a closer look at what the sharing economy has to offer.
5. Start Hiring Early
The more lead time — the better. This is particularly true if your business is in an industry that relies heavily on short-term employees. If you start recruiting too late, you’ll be competing with countless other businesses that are all trying to fill the same need.
If you want extra wait staff during the summer, for example, start recruiting local college students a month or two before they leave for vacation.
How to Keep Seasonal Employees Year-Round
With the five tips above, you should be able to build a solid roster of motivated (and well-paid) employees who are willing to stick it out until the season ends.
How do you keep those workers around for the remainder of the year — if and when you need them?
Here are some tips worth exploring:
- Advertise that full-time positions are available. You’d be surprised how many employers don’t do this.
- Offer loyalty bonuses to reward those who stay (or agree to return the following year).
- Promise to reserve their spots for next season — and stay connected with those employees throughout the year.
Arguably the most important tip of all is to treat your short-term employees like normal employees. If your full-timers can take advantage of office parties, business perks, or flexible scheduling — then it’s important you make these benefits available to everyone on the team.
Otherwise, you’re simply inviting resentment into the workspace. That will make attracting and keeping seasonal employees significantly harder.