Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees for Your Small Business

  •  05/12/2021
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Compliance , Criminal Background , Employer

It’s that time of year again where you see a spike in sales. But your shop needs more than the usual amount of help for this more-than-the-usual amount of business and customers. Seasonal hires could be the missing piece to your success. Temporary employees can be a cost-efficient solution for companies that experience influxes of business at specific times of the year, regardless of your organization’s size.

For some small businesses, hiring needs ebb and flow by season. Taking on temporary employees can help small businesses remain productive and profitable during times of peak demand without sacrificing the quality of your product or service.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) defines a seasonal employee as “an employee who is hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less.”

Some companies rely solely on seasonal employees, such as summer camps. Other small business owners hire seasonal employees to supplement their staff during periods of traffic increase, such as the holiday season.

Today, temporary workers make up a significant portion of the workforce. According to The American Staffing Association, there are more than 3 million temporary and contract workers currently working during the average week.

Small businesses in a variety of industries invest in seasonal employees at some point during the year. Some of these industries include:

  • Hospitality
  • Customer Service
  • Retail
  • Tax
  • Education
  • Travel

What is a seasonal employee?

Hiring a temporary employee can help you meet a pressing need, but rushing the recruitment and hiring process can have disastrous consequences. For every person you hire, regardless of their planned tenure, you should seriously consider going through a vetting process. Seasonal hires represent your organization, and their actions reflect your business values, so you need to make sure they promote a positive company image — even during the short time they’re staffed.

If you’re considering taking on seasonal hires, whether to prepare for the holiday rush or to supplement your staff during other times of the year, then use this guide to understand your options and incorporate these hiring tips as you take on new employees.

The Benefits of Hiring Seasonal Employees

Whether you’re hiring workers for the holidays or need to build your team for a busy summer season, you can reap the following benefits from seasonal hires (be sure to check your local laws and consult with your employment counsel):

The Benefits of Seasonal Hires

  1. Reduce Payroll Costs

Small business owners may spend a lot of money on payroll costs per employee— seasonal employees may reduce that overall cost. With seasonal employees, your business will likely only incur said payroll costs when you actually have employees on your roster.

If your seasonal employees are hired for part-time positions, then they may not work enough hours to constitute overtime pay. This further reduces the money business owners must shell out for qualified employees.

  1. Use as Trial Employment for Permanent Hires

Seasonal hires may have an employment deadline, but you can decide to extend a full-time job offer once their employment term is complete. Consider using seasonal hiring processes as a trial employment period; determine whether or not your hires would someone would make a great addition to your full-time team.

Ask yourself the following questions to gauge if a seasonal employee fits your business:

  • Does this person work well with other employees?
  • Does this person provide exemplary customer service?
  • Does this person contribute to daily productivity?
  • Does this person have the capacity to learn quickly?

Seasonal employment offers employers the unique opportunity to examine temporary hires and spot the qualities of a great hire in action.

top qualities of good employees

  1. Maintain Quality During Peak Demand

Seasonal hires can be invaluable for business owners that experience high demand during particular months. An uptick in customers can leave your current team underequipped; by bolstering your roster with temporary hires, you can provide the same level of customer service, handle increased demand, and maintain your business’ reputation of quality products or services.

  1. Improve Morale

Seasonal employees provide extra bandwidth to your current team; this can help improve morale during the busy season. When work picks up, employees may feel burnt out more quickly. Providing extra hands to help shoulder some of the increased workloads can keep your current full-time employees engaged and improve your retention rates in the long run.

Seasonal Hiring During the Holidays

Many business owners may think of seasonal hiring as exclusive to the holiday months, typically between October and January. It’s true that many seasonal hires are onboarded during this time. Why? Holiday months see a significant increase in shopper traffic; in fact, holiday sales constitute a significant portion of annual retail sales each year.

In order to keep up with demand, employers hire part-time employees to help handle the influx of business. While additional help is needed, employees must also consider the cost of these seasonal hires. Taking on holiday employees does constitute a significant investment for business owners.

Bottom line: While holiday seasonal employees may constitute more cost, the benefits may be well worth it. The more hands you have on deck, the better experience you can provide to holiday shoppers.

Seasonal hiring during the holidays

Do Employers Need to Give Seasonal Employees Benefits?

Seasonal employees are generally entitled to the same protections as all other employees, including laws governing anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, health, and safety regulations. Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seasonal hires have equal rights regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping obligations, and hiring age.

The rules governing benefits for seasonal employees vary by state. However, in a general sense, employers will typically need to provide seasonal hires with the following benefits:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Workers Comp

Read up on your state’s laws employment laws to learn more about seasonal employee rights, benefits, and policies in your area.

Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees

Small business owners and hiring managers can streamline the hiring process for seasonal employees by incorporating the following tips into their hiring checklist.

Tip #1: Write a Job Description Tailored to Seasonal Workers

It’s important to write a clear job description whether you’re hiring seasonal or permanent employees, but an effective ad should target the type of hire you’re hoping to make. Clearly state within the title and text of the description that the position is seasonal; otherwise, you may waste valuable time wading through applicants in search of a permanent position. Include the expected start date for the position and when it is likely to end. Providing all necessary information upfront may help you narrow down your pool of applicants, ensuring that only those looking for seasonal employment apply.

Tip #2: Hire Seasonal Employees Early

Hiring the right employee can be a lengthy process. It can take longer than you might think (think greater than 30 days) for small business owners to fill an open position. With that hiring timeline in mind, start early.

When do employers hire seasonal employees? We’ve seen a trend of filling summer positions by April or May each year, and winter positions being filled as early as August.

Start your search with plenty of wiggle room; you don’t want to rush the process and end up hiring the wrong employee.

Tip #3: Screen Thoroughly

As mentioned, seasonal hires may only be with your company for a limited time, but their impact can be long-standing. Vetting every hire, regardless of the employment period, is crucial.

Employers and hiring managers should consider running online background checks on seasonal hires in order to:

  • Maintain Team Productivity: A bad hire, no matter how long they’re with your company, can affect the work output of those around them. A single “toxic” employee can damage your company’s overall bottom line.
  • Protect Your Business: According to recent research from Jack L. Hayes International, Inc., dishonest employees steal 5x more from companies than shoplifters.
  • Expedite Seasonal Workers To Become Permanent Employees: If you end up deciding to hire seasonal workers onto your permanent roster, you’ll want to ensure you’ve thoroughly vetted them—putting them through the same employment screening that other full-time employees have completed.

Reasons to screen season hires

Tip #4: Create an Onboarding Program

Seasonal hires need effective and efficient onboarding to feel comfortable and perform well in their roles. Organizations with a standard onboarding process may experience greater new-hire productivity. Onboarding processes can’t be skipped. New hires typically have over 50 activities that need to be completed during the onboarding period that include things like signing documents, completing admin tasks, and achieving goals related to learning the company culture and marketplace.

Ensure your onboarding processes are efficient and comprehensive in order to set your seasonal hiresup for success.

What to Do with Seasonal Hires When Your Busy Season Ends

When the busy season comes to an end and temporary hires are preparing to leave, there are a few steps employers should take.

1. Keep Organized Records

If you part ways with your seasonal hires after the rush is over, don’t completely lose contact. If they proved to be effective hires, you may want to call on them for help during the next busy season. Keep records with each hire’s name and contact information and markdown whether or not you’d like to invite them back in the future.

2. Host Exit Interviews

Treat your seasonal employee’s departure, in the same manner, you would a permanent hire; exit interviews can help you glean important insights into your business operation and may help you spot areas that need improvement.

As you’ll likely hire seasonal employees on a recurring basis, understanding how to better manage these types of employees can help your business in the long run. Here are a few basic exit interview questions you might consider asking:

  • What did you like most about your job?
  • What would you change about your job, your team, or the company as a whole?
  • Were you given the tools to succeed at your job?
  • Were you comfortable talking to your manager about work problems?
  • Did you feel you were kept up to date on new developments and company policies?
  • If you had a friend looking for a job, would you recommend us? Why or why not?

3. Consider Bringing on Permanent Talent

While you may have hired with the intention of saying goodbye at the end of your busy season, the best employees can be tough to come by. If you find that some of your seasonal hires could be great employees, then consider bringing them on as permanent talent. This can help you reduce time and money spent on future employee recruitment and improve your employee retention rates in one fell swoop.

It’s Always Screening Season

Hiring seasonal employees can be a great way to fill in gaps in your current roster, but it doesn’t mean cutting corners. Follow a regimented hiring process checklist, just as you would for a full-time employee hire, and do your due diligence with pre-employment screening.

ShareAble® for Hires makes it easy for small business owners and hiring managers to vet job applicants. With a comprehensive employment background check, you can gain access to the information needed to make a confident hiring decision, including:

  • Identity verification: Make sure your job applicant is who they say they are
  • Credit checks: Reports may include information such as employment history, level of debt, accounts sent to collections, and previous residences
  • Criminal background checks: Keep employees, clients, and customers safe. ShareAble for Hires searches nearly 400 million criminal records to provide critical insights.

No matter when or why you might be bringing on seasonal workers, ShareAble for Hires requires no subscription or sign-up fees—screen when you need and handle busy times with confidence.

Learn more about employment screening

Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.


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