easonal employees hoist Christmas trees on car roofs, watch the waves from lifeguard chairs, and clear tables at holiday buffets. These jobs provide extra cash and flexible hours for employees, and fill staffing needs for employers at crunch times. Without proper attention to hiring and managing your temporary workers, however, you could find yourself with disgruntled employees, unhappy customers, and even legal violations.You'll want to start recruiting early. Especially in times like these, when the labor market is strong and unemployment low, it's the early bird that catches the qualified workers. You don't want to be caught short when the busy season is in full swing.
When hiring seasonal workers, it's best to be clear up front that the work is temporary. With luck, your business will thrive and the seasonal employee will be great at the job, allowing you to make a regular full-time offer. But you don't want any misunderstandings about the terms of employment at the start.
Take time to develop a job description. You may feel that the job duties—helping out with overflow work—are obvious, but what's obvious to you may not be to someone new. Spelling out the nature of the work will allow the new hire to hit the ground running. HR360's Custom Job Description Builder draws on a library of over 900 job descriptions and can help you draft the description you need in minutes.
Try to keep your hiring standards as high for short-term workers as you would for regular employees. Your babysitter's cousin may be affordable and available, but when it’s crunch time at work, you need someone who has experience in your field or who can quickly master the essentials of the job.
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Even though the seasonal workers are short-term, they still should be properly trained and well-integrated into your workforce, particularly when they are in customer-facing roles. You can save on training time by providing seasonal workers an overview of their job duties and any general information they need before they show up for work—this information can be provided online or mailed prior to their start date. "How-to" reminders printed and posted in appropriate spots around the workplace can also be a time-saving training tool. Assign each temporary employee a mentor from your regular staff to answer questions and show the newbie the ropes.
Even in the most collegial work environments, an unfriendly rift may develop between regular and seasonal employees. Break down these kinds of barriers by letting your existing employees know the temporary workers are part of the team and were brought on board to make their jobs easier. Introducing the new hires by name—in-person or via a company-wide email—is an important step toward helping everyone get acquainted. Treat the newcomers with the appreciation every employee deserves…congratulate them on jobs well done…and remember to include them in company outings and celebrations. Remember, you never know which short-term employee might bring a winning season to your company’s softball team.
Just as you shouldn't skimp on onboarding your short-term employees, neither should you hesitate to quickly address any problems they present…including getting rid of difficult employees who need to go. Waiting out personnel issues in the hope that they'll resolve themselves isn't a good strategy at any time, but is especially unwise in the busy season, when you need everyone pulling their weight and the employment itself has a short horizon.
Just like your regular employees, seasonal workers are protected by laws dealing with harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety, among others. Many seasonal workers are students, so it's worth knowing that 14- and 15-year-olds can work at a variety of non-manufacturing, non-hazardous jobs for limited hours. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds can work unlimited hours at any job not specified as hazardous by the Department of Labor.
Also, be aware that IRS tax withholding rules apply to part-time and seasonal workers, just as they do to your regular workforce. State tax laws may apply as well, so your new hires should complete a W-4 and any state equivalent, along with an I-9 showing they're legally allowed to work in the U.S.
Finally, keep in touch with your short-term workers in the off season via the occasional phone call, email or social media, so you'll have a ready, experienced workforce when your next busy time comes around.
To learn more about human resources and benefits management, including tips for motivating and rewarding employees, visit us online at HR360.com.