Does your business see a significant increase in volume at certain times of the year? Retail shops typically have their busiest days during the holiday season, while a restaurant in a resort town may have their high season during the summer tourist months. Since the volume and need for increased employees is only for a short period of time in these situations, it may not make sense to hire permanent employees. The answer for many small businesses could be to hire seasonal employees.
“With seasonal employees, you typically save time and money,” says Linda Willey, a member of Society for Human Resource Management’s Human Resources Disciplines Special Expertise Panel. “Even if you pay fees for a temporary agency, it is typically cheaper than providing benefits for a full-time employee.” Utilizing a temp agency is where employers can really save time, as it does all of the legwork of finding and vetting qualified candidates.
“Seasonal employees aren’t just for the holiday season though,” adds Willey. “It can be for a garden time at a nursery or a summer camp.” One of other benefits of using seasonal employees is that you can see if a person is a good fit for your business before incurring the responsibilities that come along with hiring them permanently, she says.
Think about what tasks can be picked up quickly by a new employee and how you can use seasonal employees for these roles. It may not make sense to hire seasonal employees for a role requiring extensive training or onboarding. According to employment website CareerCast, the jobs best suited for seasonal employment are chef, customer service representative, material moving machine operator, material recording clerk, parcel deliver, performer, photographer and retail salesperson.
Employers may want to consider paying seasonal employees a salary similar to full-time employees who perform similar work. While you save money on benefits, you should not scrimp on the salary. Check the United States Department of Labor website to be sure that you are also following all fair wage, minimum wage and child labor laws with seasonal employees. Additionally, the Small Business Administration (SBA) says that small businesses must be careful about determining if a seasonal employee is an employee or an independent contractor since the laws can be different for each classification. According to the SBA, you are required to provide unemployment benefits, Social Security/Medicare and workers compensation to employees, but not to freelancers or independent contractors.
Willey says that one effective way to find seasonal employees is through a staffing agency. “You can give the agency parameters for what you need and they will weed through the applicants,” says Willey. “Since their reputation is on the line, they will only send you top candidates.” While there is a fee involved with a staffing agency, one of the benefits is that if the employee isn’t working out, you contact the agency and they send another employee.
She also recommends considering college students who are home during summer and holiday breaks. “College students are responsible, need to earn money and are often very eager,” says Willey. She recommends checking with college career centers, sororities/fraternities and calling for interested applicants via social media. Another source to consider for seasonal workers is retirees looking for part-time work to stay active.
Regardless of how you find the employees, it is important to make sure that the employee is the right fit for your company and to check references. A poor hire, even for a seasonal employee, may decrease productivity and turn away customers. Every employee is representing your company and your customers won’t know the difference between a seasonal employee and a permanent employee. By taking the time to find the right seasonal employee for your team, you may be able to increase productivity while keeping costs low.