A Manager’s Guide To Hiring & Managing Seasonal Employees

Hiring seasonal employees: where to start looking

Whether you’re a ski lodge or a beachfront souvenir shop, you’re looking for employees to help out in peak seasons. Cold or hot—customers will come at some point and you’ll need the extra people on staff to manage the demand. So where can you find great seasonal employees? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers you need.

Where to go to find the best hourly employees

Hourly employees are in demand across the nation. How do you find motivated hourly employees who are committed to your company’s success?

Start by understanding the state of hourly employment. Contrary to popular belief, hourly employees are not just young people looking for experience and some spending money.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just under one-fifth of hourly employees in 2020 were age 25 or under.

That means hourly employees come in all shapes and sizes—some need full-time work, while others need a little spending money. As a manager, you need to adjust your tactics accordingly.

Where to find them

In 2020, there were 82.3 million hourly workers, making up well over half (58.1%) of all wage and salary workers, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a huge pool of people, but how can you find the good ones and give them a job?

There are tons of strategies, though some are more likely to result in motivated employees than others. We’ve researched the best places to find hourly employees and compiled the pros and cons.

Friends, connections, referrals

Referrals from friends, family, and professional connections are a great way to find employees. When you have open positions, ask around to see if anyone is looking for work, or knows someone who is. Post the job on LinkedIn, send out a few emails, and post a status on Facebook.

When you get referrals, you’re getting prospective employees that are verified by someone you trust, and it can save you time, money, and headaches. Referrals cut out a large part of the complicated hiring equation.

Pros:

• Employees are verified by someone you trust.

• You don’t have to pay job sites or recruiters for help.

• Can save time.

Cons:

• Could turn professional relationships sour if a new employee does not meet your standards.

• Potential for favoritism and letting employees “off the hook.”

• Risk of hiring unqualified candidates.

Online resources

The internet is the first place many turn to for job opportunities. In fact, 80% of people found their current job using the internet.

Here are some online resources to check out:

Craigslist

Craigslist is so-so for finding full-time, salaried employees, but it’s the perfect place to find hourly employees. Those hiring in hospitality, beauty, and for general labor are sure to have good luck on Craigslist.

 Pros:

• Tons of potential employees are looking for jobs on Craigslist.

• You don’t have to pay job sites or recruiters for help.

• Craigslist is best for hourly work, which is what you need.

Cons:

• Prospective employees are not verified, and it can be difficult to decipher who’s good.

• Too many candidates apply for the job and flood your email inbox.

• Can take a lot of time.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that has a whopping 810 million members. In the past several years, LinkedIn has become the go-to place for everything job-related, making it a great place to find both full-time and salaried employees.

 Pros:

• Easy to post jobs to the platform.

• Job candidates often share a connection with you.

• LinkedIn is a go-to site for those hunting for jobs.

Cons:

• Most people on LinkedIn are looking for full-time, salaried positions. LinkedIn doesn’t cater to the needs of hourly employees.

• You have to pay for job listings.

Monster, Indeed, and other big job sites

Monster, Indeed, and other big job sites cater to hiring managers like you. They’ll help you get your job posting out there, and they are trafficked by those on the hunt for employment. These big sites have the ability to get your job in front of the masses.

Pros:

• Get your job in front of a giant audience.

• Provides a platform for sifting through candidates.

• Can save time.

Cons:

• You have to pay for job postings.

• Lack of control over who sees your postings.

College career centers

College career centers have access to amazing hourly job candidates because they serve students, recent grads, and seasoned alumni. Many search for hourly opportunities in the form of summer and seasonal jobs, or part-time work that can help put them through school.

Pros:

• Employees come from a career center you know.

• You don’t have to pay job sites or recruiters for help.

• Can save time.

Cons:

• Candidates may be looking for full-time employment or seasonal work rather than hourly opportunities.

• The university has a limited network, not a giant one like big job sites. 

Job fairs and events

In-person and virtual job fairs and events are excellent ways to meet prospective candidates. You’ll get to meet them face to face, rather than through a resume, and you can go to events that target the kind of employees you want to hire, such as veterans or college students. Networking nights, college job fairs, music festivals, VA job fairs, and sporting events are all options.

Pros:

• Meet prospective employees face to face rather than through a resume.

• Requires preparation and can be time-consuming.

• Allows you to target a certain demographic (e.g. veterans or college students).

Cons:

• Limited by the quality and quantity of job fairs and events offered in your region.

• Attendees may be looking for salaried work rather than full-time employment, depending on the event.

Bonus: Snagajob

Our friends over at Snagajob develop innovative tools to help hourly workers and employers connect with each other. As an employer, it’s a great tool to use to find the best hourly workers out there. Give it a try!

How to get hourly employees

Now that you’ve found some good sources for hourly employees, you have to convince them to come work for you. They may have lots of options, so you should try to set yourself apart with what you can offer.

Here are some creative strategies for getting hourly employees to work for you:

Make ‘em come to you

Do you think Disney has a problem recruiting employees? They don’t because everyone wants to work for them.

You need to create a magnetic company culture that makes employees want to work for you, even if they’ll only serve you on a part-time basis. You can do this by offering social outings and activities, paying well, and offering opportunities for growth and advancement. Don’t underestimate touting the way your team works either. Are you using an employee scheduling software? Do you have new POS systems? All of these factor in recruiting new employees.

Think like a marketer

Marketers regularly assess their audience, and craft materials that will lure them in. When you’re recruiting hourly employees, think like a great marketer. That means you not only need compelling job descriptions, but need to think carefully about promotion.

Create a job hotline

Catch prospective employees when they’re looking for you, even if they’re perusing at three in the morning.

“Install a 24-hour job hotline and include it in your job postings,” wrote Mel Kleiman on Monster.com. “It can be as simple as an answering machine or as sophisticated as a fully-automated interviewing system. With a 24/7 system, you’ll see an increase in high-quality applicants by 30-50% or more.”

You can use a virtual phone system like Grasshopper to easily set up a hotline.

Find the best hourly employees

There are enough hourly employees out there. The key is to get them working at your business. If you visit the sources and try the strategies in this post, you’ll be well on your way to finding committed and motivated hourly workers.

How to attract the best seasonal workers

How to be the best at seasonal hiring

Attracting top talent to a seasonal position can be a tall order, and when it comes to your busiest times of year, it’s crucial to have the right number of people as well as the best people you can on staff. Hiring for these positions comes with the added challenge of making decisions quickly—and sometimes that means less vetting of potential candidates before hiring.

Create a full-proof recruitment strategy using the four tips below to ensure you are attracting top talent at the outset, and create your best rotation of seasonal hiring yet.

Tout your technology

Especially if your seasonal hiring skews younger. Gen Z, entering the workforce now, expects to have technological solutions. Use digital communication tools or scheduling software, so employees can stay up-to-date on important announcements and their schedules—all from their phones. Don’t forget to embrace technology in the hiring process as well. Make sure that you give people the option to fill out the application on their phones to increase the volume of potential candidates.

Allow room for growth

Don’t limit seasonal hiring to a single season. You can attract highly-motivated seasonal workers if you are up front about the possibility of turning it into a full-time position. If a prospective employee is interested in working for your business, they will want to get their foot in the door. Advertising the possibility for growth will help attract those that would like to stay around. If you don’t have room on staff for another full-time employee, make the seasonal position a permanent one. Many students will go back to the same job during summers even if they could be making slightly more somewhere else. Not having to worry about finding another summer job is a big perk to this demographic—and you get fully-trained workers as the foundation of the next busy season temp staff.

Start an employee referral program

Referral programs have many benefits including resulting in a hire 75% of the time, higher staff retention rates, increased performance over other employees, and those employees continue the referral cycle. Kickstart your employee referral program with incentives. They can range from an extra PTO day to a cash bonus to a tangible prize.

Showcase your workplace

More teens are looking for jobs after years of staying on the sideline, so to attract the best talents, you need to set your organization apart. You can do that in a myriad of ways. Focus on what separates you from your competitors, showcase skills that employees will get through this job, offer an employee discount on products, have a more lenient phone policy—especially for a generation that treats their phone as an appendage, having a sanctioned time to check it is a big draw. Whatever you can do to separate yourself from the pack will help bring in top talent.

Seasonal hiring doesn’t have to be a buckshot approach. Get creative with your differentiators and how you promote positions. Use the recruitment strategies outlined above to attract a larger, higher quality group of applicants. Make this busy season your best yet!

How to onboard seasonal workers

Onboarding isn’t just about first impressions or getting all the right paperwork in. Doing it right will affect your seasonal employees’ performance, their ability to achieve goals, and their overall satisfaction with their position. Even if it’s just for the season, you want them to be functioning at their full potential. How you hire and onboard your seasonal staff will set the tone for their time with you.

6 ways to improve your seasonal employee onboarding process

It’s that time of year when hiring seasonal employees becomes a necessity. Reasons for this may include needing more sales folks for the holiday season, tax time, or requiring extra staff during the summer months.

Either way, you can hire seasonal employees and be sure that you got the onboarding process down. Create a job description, a detailed employment application form, hire some folks, and then let everything run smoothly. Simple enough, right? Well, maybe not for every company.

Your seasonal employee(s) may be temporary in terms of their duration at your company, but they shouldn’t be treated as just transitory help. They’re still your employees and are representatives of your company. Making sure the onboarding process of hiring seasonal employees runs smoothly can help save a few headaches and keep you on track with running your business.

Here are a few ways to improve your seasonal hiring onboarding process.

1. Tapping into the appropriate staffing source

Where are you finding your seasonal staff? A “Help Wanted” sign on the front door may not always be the best option. Besides posting on online job sites, you should consider placing job ads through educational institutions. College students home during the holiday season can be a potential employee pool to draw from.

Recruiters who specialize in temporary placement are definitely a staffing source to consider. However, just don’t pick any random recruiter. Take the time to do a little research and find the recruiter who can best meet your requirements. A lot of recruiters for temporary staff may specialize in your particular industry (restaurants, technology, medical, retail, and so forth).

2. Timing

It’s essential to prepare for the seasonal position ahead of time. Don’t scramble to put a job ad out just a few days before you need the position filled. Proper timing is beneficial for management and current staff.

Communicate with your existing staff before hiring seasonal employees. Set expectations with them so when the new folks show up there won’t be any surprises.

3. Define the job in detail

Is the job description accurate and complete? Be sure to write out a full definition of the position being filled by your seasonal employee. This can include title, duties, duration, payment, hours or salary, and more. The more detail you can provide, the more you can mitigate any confusion with seasonal staff. An accurate job description is also essential for providing your current staff information on how the new workers will fit into the business.

4. Screening process

If you hire an external staffing agency, you may want to brief them about your company’s culture, human resources rules, business goals, and other pertinent information before they place new candidates with you. Setting expectations early in the screening process can help lessen any troubles down the line.

When using internal HR reps to screen potential seasonal staff, similar rules apply. Your HR person sets the tone when explaining company culture and is an expert in ramping up new employees.

 5. Training

The old adage of “sink or swim” may not always be ideal with new seasonal staff. Just throwing them into the business and walking away without even a small amount of training can bring disastrous results.

It’s essential you take the time to provide training for your new employees. Get them familiar with how the business works, how to deal with customers, and provide them with as much information as you can about the product or service you provide.

Also consider current staff to help out training new employees. Giving current staff the responsibility of showing new employees the inner workings of the company shows that you trust and value them.

If possible, try to involve the whole staff to share their experiences and tips with the new workers. Perhaps you want to create a training document that new employees can refer to later down the line.

6. Trust and transparency

Realize that seasonal employees are still real employees who represent your business. Treat them with the utmost respect. Don’t make them feel expendable, as they will be unmotivated and in turn treat the job as expendable, too.

Being open and trusting creates a better work environment for both management and staff. Your seasonal staff may offer a fresh viewpoint in improving your business. Be receptive to their feedback and consider their input. Who knows? Maybe they can bring some great ideas into your company.

Overall, taking the time to properly onboard your seasonal staff can be beneficial in the long term. Your seasonal staff might be back at the same time next year and if you’ve invested training in them already, they’ll be able to succeed at your company when they return.

Do your seasonal employees qualify for unemployment?

You’re running a seasonal business, with all the work of a full year compacted into a short amount of time, and you need to know. Can seasonal employees collect unemployment? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the answer is maybe. Whether or not your seasonal employees have unemployment benefits is a matter decided by your individual state. 

That’s why it’s essential that you contact your state’s department of labor in order to correctly understand your obligations as an employer and the benefits your current and future employee will be entitled to.

You can find a list of all 50 state departments of labor (with phone numbers and web URLS) on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

What you can do to keep your employees

If your seasonal employees don’t have access to unemployment, what can you do to help them cope with a potential loss of income during their downtime?

Keep team members on part-time

While most seasonal employment opportunities dry up once the season comes to a close, some seasonal businesses still operate at reduced capacity. If your business is one of these and you want to keep your seasonal employees coming back from year to year, consider offering them part-time opportunities during the off-season.

State regulations dictate how much unemployment an individual can collect and for how long. Usually, this amount is a small fraction of what the individual was making while fully employed. However, this can be a good thing, as most long-term seasonal employees have already adjusted to the “feast or famine” fluctuations in their yearly income.

Offering a part-time opportunity that pays a similar, or even smaller amount, may be enough to help your seasonal employees keep their heads above water during the leaner months.

Help staff find off-season work

If your business simply can’t keep employees on throughout the year in any capacity, helping these same individuals line up off-season work will go a long way toward keeping them happy and coming back next year. The extent to which you engage in this activity is completely up to you, but it could span the gap between simply offering a great letter of recommendation to actively tracking down openings you think your workers would be well-suited for.

If you choose to help your employees find work during the off-season, it may be a good idea to begin your search for complimentary businesses as soon as possible.

By having a list at the ready, long before it comes time to close down your operations, you can help ease your employee’s transition between seasons.

Offer more than competitive wages

Another option is to help your excellent employees pad their off-season nest eggs. By offering more-than-competitive compensation to individuals that you value highly, and that provide an excellent service to you and your business during the working season, you can ensure that these employees have something to fall back on between seasons. It’s a good idea as well to educate these select employees about this additional benefit and suggest they take the time to plan financially for the immediate future.

Provide financial training

Your employees may or may not currently have adequate financial skills to help them cope with the loss of income for several months out of the year. Chances are, even your “seasoned” seasonal workers can benefit from a little education on how to set aside funds for the leaner months and how to make that money stretch as far as possible.

That’s why it may be a good idea to hire a financial trainer/advisor, or even just host a seminar once or twice a season, in order to educate your employees about the risks and benefits of seasonal employment. If your organization isn’t large enough to warrant hosting such a session yourself, you may be able to find such educational services through local CPAs or even community college outreach programs.

Offer housing benefits

Some seasonal businesses (such as restaurants and hoteliers) may already offer seasonal employees housing either at no cost or a low cost as a condition of their work agreement. However, as an added perk, you can consider offering this same benefit to seasonal employees during the off-season as well.

Of course, you won’t want to offer housing for free during the months you’re not getting anything in return. But by adjusting rental rates according to the season, you may find that you can keep employees much longer and avoid having to hire a new crop every year.

Create an excellent work experience

By offering your employees an excellent work experience throughout the season, you can ensure that they’ll come back next year—no matter what they endure during the off-season. Employees will develop a sense of loyalty to employers who treat them well, offer chances for advancement, encourage personal growth, and offer competitive compensation and flexible scheduling. This loyalty will carry through the off months, as employees know that they’re not likely to find a better job anywhere else.

Value your employees above (pretty much) all else

Your employees really are the backbone of your business. They are, in effect, its public face, its inner workings, and its profit engine. Putting your employees’ needs ahead of pretty much anything else (except for your bottom line and your customer satisfaction) is a good way to cultivate a crew of hardworking, reliable, and resourceful employees that will keep your seasonal business running year after year.

Overview of managing seasonal workers

A quick guide to managing part-time summer employees

Summer is more than a trip to the beach. For your business, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of hiring seasonal employees.

Whether you run a busy restaurant with seasonal staff or are hiring college interns at your tech company, you need to effectively manage part-time summer employees. If you don’t, things can go haywire fast, and you’ll have a second job trying to manage the chaos.

In this guide, we’ll go over best practices for managing summer employees, so that you can get the most out of your seasonal additions:

Pay fairly

Just because someone is there for the summer doesn’t mean you can get away with paying them pennies—and you can’t pay them under the table either.

If you want to ensure that your summer employees are happy and committed, pay the going rate, or above it. For employees who are home from college for the summer, you don’t need to go overboard, but you do need to be competitive.

Each state has different laws on payment schedules, minimum wage, and taxes. Make sure you check up on what you need to know. Your employees might only be around for the summer, but labor laws still apply.

Start with trust

Yep, trust matters.

 According to The Harvard Business Review, employees who trust their leaders are 106% more energetic and 50% more productive at work. But this trust goes both ways—you need to trust your employees, too.

Sure, it’s hard to trust people you don’t know, especially when you know they won’t be around for long. Even though it might be tempting to micromanage projects and constantly check on part-time employees, this will do more harm than good. If employees feel you don’t trust them, they’ll resent you.

Assume the best of everyone you hire until proven otherwise. The worst case scenario? Someone betrays your trust, and you show them the door.

Prioritize education and training

New hires need to be effectively and efficiently onboarded, and they should learn something while they’re working with you.

Consider pairing seasonal hires with year-round employees in a mentorship program. This is a good way to give each hire a point person to help them get up to speed. You can also host training sessions, and send part-time hires to educational events.

If events seem too inexpensive, online training is a good option. Just make sure you (or someone you trust) vets the courses carefully. Many are dry, boring, and aren’t genuinely helpful to your staff.

Expect high standards

Your summer employees might be greener than the people you’ve got all the time, but that doesn’t mean you should expect less from them.

In fact, NPR ran a story about a group of students that took an IQ test. After they took the test, half were told they were brilliant, likely to be successful, and teachers were clued in, too. A few months later the students took the same test, and the students who had been told they were gifted performed much better. Why? Because they were held to high standards by their teachers, and there was an expectation they would succeed.

You can harness this principle with your summer employees. Act like high standards are the norm, tell your employees they are talented and you expect them to do well, and lead by example.

Introduce them to the team

Your summer employees may only be around for three months, but they’ll only do well if they feel they’re part of the team. So, make them feel included.

Throw a party that introduces seasonal employees to your staff, give them name tags, or hold a meet and greet so everyone can get to know each other. Even if you don’t have a formal event, walk new employees around your establishment and introduce them to each individual. Give them point people to talk to if they have questions.

A mid- or end of summer party is a great way to celebrate seasonal staff. It will give all employees something to look forward to, and allow everyone to socialize outside of work.

Give them summer-long projects

Summer-long projects are a great way to help seasonal employees stay committed, especially when the sun is out and it’s tempting to take a few days off.

If you’re hiring employees for an office job, be sure to give summer-long projects that can result in tangible goals and learnings. Make sure these projects reflect not only what you need these employees to do, but also what they want to learn. In office jobs, this is extremely important.

Not only will these projects inspire employees to commit to your company, but it will ensure that they actually get something out of working with you.

Give the gift of books

If you’re able, give your employees books to help them get up to speed on trends in business, as well as effective productivity strategies. Books can teach employees things you can’t, and they’ll be able to apply lessons learned in their own way.

Here are some great books to hand over to summer employees:

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande 

LinchPin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Have them touch many aspects of the business

Summer employees often feel disconnected. After all, they’re only around for a short time, and it’s hard to build relationships and accomplish their goals in just one summer.

To remedy this, have them touch many aspects of the business. For example, if you work in a restaurant, you might have an employee try out bussing, waiting tables, and hosting. In an office, you might have a summer employee take on a project with the marketing team, as well as the web and engineering teams.

Not only will this give inexperienced employees a feel for what they do and don’t like, but it will make them feel more responsible as they’ll understand more about your business as a whole.

No special treatment

No picking favorites. This should be a given, but sometimes managers forget.

What’s wrong with it? Year-round employees might feel undermined if your favorites are the employees who are only around for the summer, and seasonal employees will feel disconnected if you show your love to everyone besides them.

Yes, some employees will be more skilled than others, but try to give everyone you’ve hired an equal opportunity to succeed, while making them feel welcome. Don’t take certain employees out to lunch, but not others. Don’t give some employees exciting projects.

Ask for feedback

Throughout the summer, ask for feedback about what’s going well and what isn’t. This will allow you to kill problems before they blow up.

Gallup found that when managers provided weekly feedback, their employees were 3.2 times more likely to strongly agree that they were motivated to do outstanding work and 2.7 times more likely to be engaged at work.

Conflicts will naturally arise, but they don’t have to stop you in your tracks. Make sure you address any conflict that a seasonal employee brings to your attention. This will foster trust, and help you improve your organization’s overall culture.

Busy season is here: Enjoy the help

You’re a great manager, but seasonal part-time workers are a challenge for all of us.

Managing part-time summer employees is tough, but ultimately, it’s great to have the help. Summer employees bring a fresh, new perspective that can breathe life into your business. Embrace these new personalities, even though they might not be around for very long. If you’re able to include these new employees, they will help better your business and company culture.

If you follow the advice in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a summer of fun and productivity, all thanks to your effective management.

The quick guide to managing seasonal employees

The countdown to Memorial Day is on. The official start of the summer holiday season kicks off in just a few weeks, with businesses across the U.S. already prepping for the annual rush. For many business owners, keeping up with more customers also means adding more hands on deck. In the summer of 2022, hourly jobs were up 197% compared to pre-pandemic norms.

Although seasonal employees are a great solution to increased demand, they add their own challenges to an already busy time of year. They’re often younger workers with a range of different backgrounds and skill levels, and they may require more training than your regular employees. But seasonal employees can actually help you achieve your business goals. Use this guide to set your temporary hires up for success all summer long.

Start recruiting early

Want to have an easier time managing seasonal employees? Start with hiring the best seasonal employees. It may sound easier said than done, but the secret is simple: don’t wait until the last minute to hire. 57% of hourly workers are looking for holiday jobs in September. For the summer season, some employers even start hiring as early as April.

Give yourself the best shot at hiring the best candidates by posting job ads long before your busy season starts. You’ll have access to a bigger candidate pool, feel more confident in your hiring decisions, and be able to fully vet potential employees instead of hiring whoever happens to be available in a crunch. It may even allow you to build in a trial period, or schedule your employees to start and train all at the same time.

Treat them the same as regular employees

While seasonal employees may only be working for a few months, treating them differently from your normal employees hurts more than it helps. That includes discrepancies in pay and scheduling. Don’t comment on seasonal employees just to remind them of their limited tenure and avoid investing in their growth. Don’t only schedule them for the shifts no one else wants to pick up. Dividing your team between “regular” and “seasonal” workers does little for team camaraderie. Instead, recognize them based on their performance and give them opportunities to learn new skills. Invite them to team events and encourage your regular employees to reach out.

Research shows that happy employees are 12% more productive at work and happy salespeople produce 37% more sales. While they may not be part of the team for long, seasonal employees are still a vital part of your business strategy. You need them to keep your business running smoothly throughout the busy season, maybe even to keep your regular employees from burning out due to an increased workload. The more invested you are, the more they will be.

Do things by the book

Treating employees fairly isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the law. In many cases, seasonal employees are legally the same as your regular employees. If your business involves interstate commerce, then under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), both regular and seasonal employees must:

• be paid the minimum wage for your state or local jurisdiction

• be paid at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages if they are tipped employees 

• receive overtime pay at the rate of one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek

Seasonal workers under the age of 18 also come with additional legal requirements. If you’re hiring students out of school for the summer, they may not be able to work the same hours or perform the same tasks as your older employees. For example, FLSA guidelines state that 14- and 15-year-olds may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day when the evening limit is extended to 9 p.m.). You can check out the full FLSA guidelines on teen workers for more information and other age-specific requirements.

Don’t skimp on training

The holiday and summer seasons are often the busiest times of year for businesses. They also happen to be the most stressful. Don’t let poorly-trained new employees slow down your team. Although it’s tempting to get seasonal employees on the floor and working as soon as possible, taking the time to train them thoroughly will go a long way towards avoiding headaches later.

Remember: Although seasonal employees aren’t here to stay, your customers are. Temporary workers’ interactions and customer service skills can have lasting impacts on your business long after the season’s over. So put seasonal employees through the same training as your regular employees. Try one or two of these strategies to streamline the process even more:

• Train current employees to train new employees.

• Cross-train new employees in other roles/tasks.

• Provide as many opportunities to practice new skills as possible. 

• Check in on their progress along the way.

Get ahead of any issues

If you notice a problem with a new seasonal employee, confront it immediately. It may be that they’re struggling to keep up with the fast pace or need additional training. After all, seasonal employees are usually hired because of greater demand. Help them feel comfortable speaking up if they have questions. Create a mentor or buddy system by partnering seasonal hires with more experienced members of your team. That way, they always have someone to check in with if they’re unsure or need advice.

Still, if you suspect a deeper issue like a poor fit or performance problem, address it as soon as possible. According to one study, replacing a single “toxic” employee can enhance your team’s performance more than replacing an average worker with an exceptional one. Your busy season should be the time your business performs well, not suffers due to a difficult employee.

Be clear about expectations

You may not know specific end dates, but be upfront with seasonal workers during the hiring process about how long you expect their position to last. Some job seekers see seasonal employment as a route to a long-term role, while others are happy with a temporary commitment. If a permanent job is a true possibility, it can be a great motivator for your future-thinking employees. If it’s not, you can avoid a difficult conversation by setting clear expectations from the very beginning.

Make it a habit of agreeing on the number of weeks or the end date in seasonal employee job offers. Include it on all of your hiring materials. Once an employee knows the length of their work term, you can set goals on an appropriate timeline.

Stay in touch

Setting expectations doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever after the season ends. If you find a good employee, keep them at the top of your hire list for next year. Employees who either teach or go to school during the year are usually available during summers and holiday breaks, as well as employees who work other seasonal jobs that contrast with your busy season.

If you have any of these employees on your summer staff, talk about their plans for next year. It can be an informal conversation where you simply let them know your door is always open or a semi-permanent agreement to work for you during their personal off-season. When your busy season comes around again, you won’t be starting from the ground up. You’ll already have a roster of potential hires to call.

Summary

Seasonal employees can be a challenge for even the best manager. With good planning, careful hiring, and additional training, you can build a team that’s ready to tackle the busy season head on, this summer and the next.

Use When I Work to save time and make it easier to manage all of your employees.

Seasonal employment FAQs

What is the difference between temporary, part-time, and seasonal employees?

It’s important to understand the difference between temporary, part-time, and seasonal employees, because employee status impacts how employment law is applied.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is where a federal minimum wage is set, along with rules pertaining to overtime, records, and youth employment standards.

However, FLSA doesn’t define full- or part-time employment. Some states define a part-time employee as someone who works less than 30-35 hours a week. In some cases, the business defines this. These employees are usually paid at an hourly rate, have to follow the same rules and expectations of the full-time workers in the business, are covered under OSHA’s safety policies, but don’t necessarily have the employment benefits that a full-time worker might have.

Temporary employees, whether hired through an agency or directly, are there to fill in vacant job openings, whether that’s in a full- or part-time capacity. Most don’t receive benefits. Depending on the state, the situation, and how they were hired, some temp employees may (or may not) be eligible for various legal protections (e.g. FMLA).

Seasonal employees are less about job vacancies than businesses simply needing more help during a busy time. They’re usually hired part-time for the season.

Think of it like this: A seasonal worker is someone who works part-time for a set time each year, and is an addition to the regular workforce. A temporary worker fills gaps in the standard workforce.

Who is considered a seasonal employee?

There are two ways to determine if someone is a seasonal employee:

  • Are you running a seasonal business?
  • Are you running a non-seasonal business, but bringing on extra employees to help with a busier-than-normal season of customer demand?

The FLSA has rules regarding the employer, when it comes to defining whether or not they’re a seasonal business. A seasonal business doesn’t have to follow FLSA. 

According to the FLSA, a seasonal business, where all employees are seasonal employees, is defined as a company that can’t operate for more than seven months each year, or the average receipts for any six-month period selected didn’t exceed 33 1/3% of the average for the remaining six months. Think of ski lodges, summer amusement parks, snow removal companies, swimming pools, summer camps, and so on.

If you don’t fall into that category, then FLSA—and its minimum wage and overtime rules—applies to you, and all of your employees, including your seasonal workers.

Youth ages 14-15 can be employed during non-school hours for non-hazardous jobs, within hour limits, and make great seasonal employees. Youth ages 16-17 don’t have any hour limits, but there are still specific legal limitations for what workers of this age group can and can’t do, so it’s worth looking these up.

One more thing: Different aspects of law affecting employees have different definitions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) defines a seasonal employee as someone who is hired for a position that is generally six months or less a year, during the same time each year (e.g. summer or winter). The IRS has their own rules for seasonal employees and employer requirements, and so on.

How many hours can seasonal employees work?

If you have a seasonal business, the FLSA’s rules won’t apply when it comes to hours and overtime. If you are not a seasonal business, your seasonal workers will generally be treated the same as your full- or part-time workers.

Keep in mind, though, that the hours an employee works can trigger other legal employment issues. For example, if you’re not a seasonal business and you employ at least 50 full-time employees (who work at least 30 hours a week), you’re an Applicable Large Employer (ALE). The ACA might apply to you.

What legal requirements are there for hiring seasonal workers?

When it comes to hiring seasonal workers for a business that isn’t classified as a seasonal business, there are a few employment and tax laws to keep in mind:

  • While the FLSA doesn’t define full- or part-time, the hours your seasonal employees work may trigger ACA requirements depending on the classification of your employer.
  • Employers are still required to withhold taxes for federal unemployment, Social Security, Medicare, and so on, even for seasonal employees.
  • Employers have to follow the minimum wage requirements. Most states have a higher rate than the federal government, and that hire wage must be used.
  • Employees are entitled to protection under all OSHA rules, worker’s comp, and other FLSA specifics.
  • Know whether your state law requires that seasonal workers qualify for unemployment or not.

In other words, for non-seasonal businesses looking to take on seasonal workers for a busy time, there isn’t much difference when it comes to the legal requirements than you’d follow if you hired a part- or full-time employee.


*Please note: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

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