What does the fourth quarter look like in your small business? For a good number of small businesses, the last three months of the year are super busy. The end of the year brings in a surge of clients, customers and events which may overwhelm your normal staff. Often times this influx of business, while a good thing for the bottom line of your small business, may be impossible to meet without bringing on some additional resources.
If you know that your small business will pick up, as in it happens every year, or you’re working really hard to get in on the upcoming holiday shopping and spending frenzy that’s about to be upon us. Hiring additional staff will ensure you’re able to handle the work that comes with all that extra cash rushing into your business.
Hiring seasonal staff is a great option for small business owners who want to increase their business volume for short periods of time. Seasonal employees allow you add as many resources as you need to meet demand, while you have the extra income to meet that payroll demand. The beauty is that you don’t have to keep these extra hands on deck after your need for them is over.
Maybe you’ve hired seasonal staff before or maybe this year will be first go at it. But whatever your experience there are a few things that you must do if you want to have successful seasonal hiring. Over the years, we’ve learned a few things that will save you some headaches. So let’s get to it.
And by early, I mean in September or October. Waiting until November to start recruiting additional employees could leave you with no one to hire. People looking to earn some additional cash during the holidays start looking for work around October and get snatched up quick by the big box stores. Or you’ll get stuck with the seasonal hires that you probably wouldn’t hire if you had other options. A sample schedule leading up to your 4th quarter seasonal hiring may include the activities below:
August: Start Planning
- Figure out how many seasonal employees you need to meet the anticipated demands on your small business.
- Plan schedules and decide what shifts your seasonal employees will work.
- Determine what training your seasonal employees will need and begin creating or gathering those resources. If you need ideas on what training seasonal employees my need, we shared some ideas here.
- Decide on the duration of the seasonal period. That means planning the date that your business will start to need additional help and when it will no longer need the extra assistance.
September: Promote Your Seasonal Jobs (and keep promoting)
- Spread the word that your small business will be hiring seasonal employees. You may consider your seasonal jobs on Jacksonville Works, to start building your applicant pool.
- If you have physical location, signage in your business is a great way to build awareness about your seasonal jobs.
- Begin accepting applications for seasonal employees.
October: Actively Recruit and Hire
- Ramp up recruiting efforts. Successful seasonal hiring involves consistent job promotion. Keep going strong and increase your efforts.
- Conduct interviews with your top applicants. Prepare to interview seasonal employees by creating an interview guide specially for season jobs. You can find a list of good question interview questions for seasonal workers to get your started here.
- Extend job offers to your desired candidates. Prepare offer letters and arrange employment start dates.
- Schedule dates for orientation and training sessions.
- Keep in contact with suitable applicants who were not selected to fill any future vacancies during the season.
Be Clear That the Job is Seasonal
Everyone is not looking for seasonal employment. If you don’t clearly state that they are applying for a seasonal position in your job posting, they will have no idea that they won’t have a job after the holidays or the busy season that you’ve hired them to work. Throughout the process it’s a good idea to reinforce that the position is not permanent and the duration of the employment. A few points on how to accomplish this:
- Job title: The job title should clearly communicate that the job is seasonal. This is as easy as adding the word “seasonal” to the job title of the position your small business is hiring. For example if you’re hiring extra stock clerks for your retail shop, instead of just listing stock clerk, you would use “seasonal stock clerk”.
- Job Posting: In addition to the job title, include that the position is seasonal in the job position. It’s also a good idea to include the start and end date of the seasonal employment period and expectations of availability. That is especially important if you want them to work holidays as well.
- The application form: Another way to communicate the seasonal nature of the job is to use an application form that states the applicant is applying for seasonal employment. You can take the application you already have and instead of “Application for Employment”, change that to “Application for Seasonal Employment.”
Plan for Regular Employee Time Off
The purpose of seasonal employees are to fill staffing gaps and shortages. To do this adequately, part of that planning is to take into account time that your regular employees will request off. By doing so, you can better estimate when how many seasonal employees are needed and when you need them to work. If these things are not factored in, it's possible to end up with no more employees working on any given day than you normally would have. And that just defeats the whole purpose.
Keep it simple
Remember, seasonal employees are there to assist with a specific need and meet a specific demand. They may be around for a few months. So be realistic in what you expect for them to learn to do. The best advice is to keep it simple by assigning tasks that can be picked up quickly. For example, you quickly train someone to be a cashier, it may take longer to train a shift supervisor. Keep the positions that you hire on a seasonal basis entry level. If you need more supervisory staff to help train and monitor seasonal employees, consider letting a high performing permanent employee fill this role. It would be a great developmental opportunity for them and you may have just found the next supervisor for your business.
These tips will get your seasonal hiring off to a great start. If you’re planning to hire seasonal employees in the fourth quarter. Share you hiring plans with us in the comments.
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