How to recruit seasonal staff
Seasonal highs like Christmas are key trading periods for a wide range of sectors, from retail to restaurants. So to cope with the increased demand, many companies recruit thousands of seasonal workers.
Of course, it’s not just seasonal fluctuations that can cause businesses to up their staffing level, major events can have a huge effect on the local jobs market too. For example, with the Commonwealth games taking place in Glasgow, it’s likely that a range of companies including security, cleaning contractors, local bars, restaurants and hotels are took on 1,000s of extra staff.
While this is a fantastic opportunity for jobseekers to find extra work, it can be challenge for the recruiters who need to ensure that these temporary workers are up to the job.
Here are a number of ways that you can ensure things run smoothly when hiring seasonal or temporary staff.
Treat temporary staff as you would full-time staff
Commercial pressures can sometimes dictate busy hiring periods and it can be tempting to cut corners. This is why recruitment managers need to ensure that their recruitment processes for temporary workers are as robust as they would be for a permanent employee.
This should include assessments to understand a person’s knowledge as well as their competence to get the job done well. Your brand will suffer if you don’t take care to source, hire and onboard seasonal workers who will ultimately represent the best that your business has to offer.
Chris Wood, who manages leading UK corporate clothing supplier Incorporatewear says: “Wherever possible plan for surges in staffing demands and book early. Despite regular appearances, Christmas is often forgotten!”
Colin Fisher, Managing partner at The Candidate, adds: “The lead time you need for hiring seasonal staff is dependent on the season, Christmas, for example, might need a marketing strategy to be devised to attract candidates around six months beforehand – this should then be rolled out around three months before hire start.”
Get a good partner
If you’re hiring seasonal staff make sure you use reputable agencies, as paying staff the national minimum wage is essential, whether they are temporary or permanent. The same goes for holidays and access to work facilities such as canteens, common rooms and parking facilities.
Wood adds that it’s also a good idea to use multiple agencies. “This allows ongoing competitive comparisons of price and service and allows flexibility if one agency is short-staffed,” he explains.
Want to know what working rights you need to give temporary workers? Our guide explains it all.
Build in contingencies
For many companies, knowing how many staff to hire can be an issue, so you need to have procedures in place.
“Once you have one year reporting figures this would be relatively easy to identify using sales flow figures to track the peak for the season. You can then establish how many additional staff you would need to cover this period,” explains Fisher. “Without one year figures (in a new business for example) Google market research can be done to identify competitors’ increase in staff, combined with future client invoice confirmation.”
Wood adds: “You should also expect a degree of absenteeism and plan accordingly. Even with the best intentions, agency staffers won’t be able to attend every day and, by the nature of the work, may find better alternatives at short notice.”
Remember your staff reflect your brand
One of the risks for organisations is the failure to invest in processes to support new recruits. This includes carrying out assessments in the recruitment phase to check they have the right skills for the role, as well as training in all aspects of the role. Neglecting these areas can have serious repercussions, as mistakes can compromise health and safety standards, lead to poor customer services and even damage a company’s reputation or brand.
“Ensure you are capable and ready to provide suitable training for the duties that you expect seasonal workers to complete as well as essentials such as health and safety,” says Wood.
Brief recruiters properly
Finally, concludes Wood: “Ensure the agency you’re using is fully briefed on what skills you need, which could be, for example, technical, linguistic or involve appropriate qualifications. Like permanent employees, seasonal workers need to be exceptional.”