How seasonal employees can help your workplace

By Robert Half on 15th July 2019

You won’t always be able to predict when your business needs some extra help. But if yours is like most businesses, there are times throughout the year when you can come to expect higher than usual workloads. It could be coming into tax season, when you decide to enhance your customer offering, or during periods of high volume sales. Whatever the situation, most businesses will need to seek out a solution and that solution is often seasonal employees.

When is it helpful to hire seasonal employees?

Year-end — Many businesses get extremely busy in November and December. Workplace stress levels can swell during the holidays when there are fewer employees around to help with the extra customer service duties and end-of-year responsibilities. Retailers, delivery and logistics companies, businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries, and others often need significant extra help during the lead-up to the holidays to meet their end of year deadlines.

Seasonal cover — It’s not unusual for companies to find themselves short-handed over the summer and winter months. Hiring seasonal employees for cover when regular employees take annual leave can help keep projects on track or get them finished.

Tax season or regulatory changes — If you work in accounting and finance and find yourself buried in piles of paperwork and looming deadlines, you’re probably in the midst of tax season. Accounting departments and firms are impacted the most, with large workloads and long hours at this time of year. Seasonal employees can serve as invaluable reinforcements.

Exploring new ventures — Many small businesses don't have the luxury of growing at a consistent rate, so seasonal employees can be brought in to support regular employees who are scoping out new business opportunities, or developing new products.

4 considerations when hiring seasonal employees

When you find yourself in this type of situation, you need an effective strategy to quickly find, win over and prepare highly skilled seasonal employees. 

1. Engage with a recruitment firm

A good relationship with a first-rate recruiter is essential to successful seasonal hiring. A specialised recruitment agency like Robert Half knows the candidate marketplace in your industry and city. We have a database of job seekers, including many that you and other companies wouldn’t have access to on your own.

Moreover, it can be challenging to evaluate and hire a large number of people in a short amount of time when you and your team are already stretched thin. A recruitment agency can make this process much easier and help you identify and bring on board lots of seasonal employees at once. We can effectively evaluate experience and skills to make the right matches — and fast.

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2. Be ready to make an offer to seasonal workers

Just as you would with a candidate for a permanent position, assess potential seasonal employees based on the required skills and experience, performance expectations, personality, and corporate culture fit. Conduct reference checks to make sure you’ve made the best match possible.

But before you do all that, find out what range you should expect to pay. The market is competitive even for temporary professionals today. If a recruiter is helping you hire seasonal help, they can work with you to ensure you offer a remuneration level that meets the market standard.

3. Set clear expectations

Even with a seasonal employee, you need to have a strong sense of the specific duties and responsibilities of the job you’re hiring for. If you’re working with a recruitment agency, inform your recruitment consultant of the time frame and key expectations, and make sure they are communicated to the candidates during the interview.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to write a detailed job description before you bring the temporary staff member on board.

4. Don't overlook the potential for seasonal employees to become permanent employees

Avoid the temptation to give seasonal employees ad-hoc assignments. The advantage of doing this is that you can effectively evaluate if the seasonal worker is performing to the desired standard over the period of time. In the current skill shortages, identifying a skilled seasonal worker with strong potential can be useful for any business. With many seasonal jobs, there can be an opportunity for the temporary role to be changed to permanent, and having effectively evaluated the current candidate could save time and money.

Seasonal employees often make great candidates for permanent positions, and best of all, as they will have already received onboarding, you will have been able to accurately assess their cultural fit and have all their systems set-up -- other than needing to change their employment status the experience can be seamless. 

Whether you’re impacted by periods of heavy workloads or seasonal work, a little preparation can go a long way. Apply this hiring strategy to find the best seasonal employees who can provide extra support when there is a temporary increase in workload — and take the load off you and the rest of your staff.

Related: Best practice guide to recruiting temporary staff

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