For small businesses that are punctuated by seasonal highs and lows, hiring up for the busy times can present additional stress to an already burgeoning to-do list. Stephanie Eberhart, managing partner of TalentRemedy, believes success lies in tackling the process well in advance, even up to three months prior to the busy season. Hiring early takes the pressure off, and encourages an organized and efficient process.
Before recruiting begins, consider how many seasonal employees are required and what timeslots need coverage. To help ensure a successful process, you should also:
- Understand the taxes and benefits you might need to pay. True, most seasonal workers don’t receive benefits, but employers are still obligated to pay some taxes (such as social security).
- Develop a detailed hiring plan. There are a plethora of tools available to reach prospective employees, such as social media, job boards, want ads, a help wanted sign in your window, word-of-mouth, employee/customer referrals and even reaching out to local high schools and universities. Determine which methods offer the best opportunities for connecting you to the most appropriate seasonal hires.
- Use a temp agency, if necessary. Temp agencies can alleviate pain (recruiting, screening and so on) points by handling large portions of the process.
- Develop up-to-date job descriptions. Describe daily duties so potential hires understand exactly what’s required for the temporary role. Be clear about expectations so both parties know what will and what won’t happen once hired, and provide clear information about the employment period. False expectations can cause unnecessary issues in what should be a short, but productive, tenure.
- Conduct a thorough interview. Don’t rush the process because you’re evaluating temporary hires. Follow the same rigorous protocol as you would with full-time employees, and conduct your usual background and reference checks.
- Gather specific schedule information early on in the process to avoid potential conflicts. Eberhart suggests confirming time off needs during the interview. You don’t want to find out after a hire that they need two weeks off during your busiest time.
- Hire for attitude, as well as aptitude. You’ll need someone who can get up to speed quickly and be proactive when it counts. A good attitude can spell the difference between someone who grows surly during hectic times and one who will cheerfully go the extra mile.
- Take the time to train. You might be gearing up for your peak period, but you still need to provide the necessary training. Temporary or not, these employees represent your company. Also, don’t forget to train seasonal employees on company policies, such as discrimination and harassment.
Lastly, don’t lower expectations because these are temporary hires. “Your business’ reputation may depend on a seasonal worker’s performance,” Eberhart said. “And don’t assume that seasonal work is just seasonal. If they do a good job, you may end up hiring them on a permanent basis.”