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How to Hire Seasonal Workers

Some businesses like summer camps or ski resorts rely solely on seasonal employees. Others, such as retail or tax professionals, need to hire temporary workers to supplement their staff during their busy seasons. While hiring seasonal employees can seem overwhelming, finding the right seasonal hire helps meet customer demand without having to sacrifice service or quality.


Here are some tips to make the seasonal hiring process smoother for your business.


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What is a seasonal worker?

A seasonal worker is someone who only works for a short period of time to meet seasonal needs for your company. This might coincide with weather seasons or with busy seasons for the business.


Businesses that use seasonal workers typically need them at the same time each year, such as lifeguards or lawn care workers in the summer or ski instructors or snowplow drivers in the winter. When hiring seasonal workers, you can hire them on a part-time or full-time basis.


Benefits of hiring seasonal workers

If your business is seasonal, meaning you have a much larger workload during part of the year, hiring seasonal workers can be a good solution for staffing issues. Here are some of the benefits:


  • Extra help when you need it: When your business has a busy season, you only need extra help for part of the year. Seasonal workers give you that extra help when you need it without the expense of paying employees year-round.
  • Lower benefits costs: In addition to saving on salaries, you also save on benefits costs. If you hire part-time seasonal employees, the benefits you offer them are usually minimal. You also don’t have to pay for benefits year-round.
  • Relief for full-time staff: Your seasonal employees help with the workload to give your full-time employees a break. This can improve morale for permanent employees because they have the support they need when things get busy.
  • Less risk: When you hire a permanent employee, you don’t always know if they’ll be a good fit for the job. Seasonal employees are only hired for a short period. If they aren’t a good fit, they won’t be around for long anyway.
  • Potential for a full-time employee: On the other hand, if you hire a seasonal employee who works out well, you might be able to offer them a permanent position when one becomes available. It’s a trial run that works as a recruiting method for permanent positions.

Improving the seasonal hiring process

Finding seasonal workers can be difficult since the job is only for a short period. Here are some ways to improve the seasonal hiring process.


Write a clear job description for seasonal roles

A compelling, clear job description will help you make a successful hire. Transparency is vital when compiling information about the job description. Your job posting should include:


  • Relevant keywords: The word “seasonal” or “temporary” should be in the job title, and employment start/end dates should be highlighted.
  • Know your needs: Detail the exact positions you have available and the skills that are required.
  • Highlight job benefits: Be upfront about any discounts, perks or bonuses employees receive to make your job stand out.

Start hiring seasonal employees early and onboard quickly

There is often competition for seasonal talent. Attract the best candidates by starting your hiring process early, and ensure a smooth onboarding process by following these tips:


  • Start as early as possible: As soon as you know what your hiring needs are, start the search and review as many applications as possible. Seasonal employees likely submit applications to numerous companies, and it may be more difficult to find employees late in the season.
  • Ask good interview questions: When reviewing potential seasonal workers, filter out any candidates you feel might not be the best culture fit. Ask about any time commitments or restrictions that may affect scheduling.
  • Offer specific job training: Bring seasonal employees onboard with enough time to ensure sufficient job training. Thorough job preparation will reduce issues during the season and help keep your seasonal staff engaged.

Look for people who want seasonal work

This might sound obvious, but focus your recruiting on people who want a seasonal job. Some people might take a seasonal job even though they’d prefer a permanent position. If they get a different job offer during your seasonal period, they’ll likely leave and you’ll be short-staffed. 


Aim to hire people who want seasonal work. Examples include:


  • Retired people
  • Stay-at-home parents who want to work while their kids are in school
  • Students who are home on break
  • Digital nomads who travel for a living but want some seasonal work to pad their bank accounts

Hiring people with the seasonal work mindset can help you keep them around for the full season and get them to return next year.


Where to find seasonal workers

If you know where to look, you can find a wealth of seasonal talent to add to your team. Here are a few places you can find seasonal talent:


  • Former staff: If this isn’t your first busy period, it’s worth reviewing the staff from your previous busy seasons. An employee who is already familiar with your company and the rush you experience will be able to contribute quickly and may even be able to help train new workers.
  • Employee referrals: Your full-time employees may have friends and family who are looking for seasonal work to supplement their income. It may be beneficial to offer referral bonuses for suggestions that lead to successful hires.
  • Recruiting events: Host an open house recruiting event at your business, so prospective candidates can check it out. Hold interviews and be prepared to offer jobs to candidates. You might also set up a booth at career fairs in the area.
  • Social media: Post about your seasonal vacancies on your social media accounts. People who already follow you might also be interested in working for you. Highlight the benefits of seasonal employment with your company or feature current seasonal employees.
  • Job search engines: Using a job search engine like Indeed places your job description in front of a wealth of candidates who are already looking for opportunities like yours. Include a strong job description, so job seekers can easily understand the position.

Retaining your seasonal staff

With all the costs and effort put into attracting, hiring and training seasonal staff, retaining staff is key to ensuring a successful season. Here are some tips to keep your new hires through the season:


  • Treat them like family: Treat the seasonal staff with the same respect and conditions that your full-time staff receives.
  • Keep communication open: Fielding concerns and problems before they become unsolvable will develop trust with seasonal staff and keep them returning.
  • Offer a bonus: Offering an additional pay bonus is a great way to keep employees on throughout the season. If you’re offering a bonus, make sure to highlight it early in the application and hiring process.
  • Be prepared to hire again: Even if you’ve managed to hire the perfect seasonal staff, you may need to bring on additional employees to replace or supplement your workforce before the end of the season. Keep qualified applicants on hand, just in case.

End of season

Ending a busy season can be a rewarding yet bittersweet moment. How you end a relationship with seasonal staff can help with next year’s hiring. Here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • Availability: Ask outgoing employees if they would be interested in returning for the next season. Some workers design their needs and lifestyle around managing seasonal and temporary jobs, and they may be looking for another opportunity next year.
  • Exit interviews: To learn from successes and drawbacks, hold exit interviews with seasonal employees, regardless of how long they worked with you. Having informative feedback can help streamline next year’s efforts.
  • Permanent talent: Tempting as it may be, you likely won’t have the means or the resources to bring every seasonal employee on full-time. However, keep an eye on exceptional staffers who would be an excellent full-time fit should anything change.

When it comes to maintaining your operations and providing excellent customer service during your busiest months, hiring seasonal employees can help keep your business moving without taking on an excess of employees.


FAQs about hiring seasonal employees

Here are some commonly asked questions about hiring seasonal help.


Do regular labor laws apply to seasonal employees?

Most labor laws apply to seasonal employees, as well as regular employees. The main exception is FMLA leave. To be eligible, the employee has to work for the company for at least 12 months, although it doesn’t have to be consecutive, and they need to have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking the leave. Seasonal employees might not qualify.


Do you have to pay seasonal employees overtime?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires most businesses to pay an overtime rate of one-and-a-half times the regular pay rate for hours worked beyond 40 hours each workweek. This includes seasonal employees.


State and federal labor laws exempt certain businesses, which might include camps, nonprofit educational institutions and some recreational businesses. Make sure you understand the laws that apply to your business regarding minimum wage and overtime pay.


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