How to Prepare for the Holidays With Seasonal Workers

Once the holiday season starts rolling around, hiring short-term talent enables you to meet the challenge without affecting hiring plans and budgets.

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When customer interest and demands spike, it’s not just all hands on deck, but rather more hands on deck. While these workers will not be needed in off months, looking at hiring in a seasonal pattern and in terms of full time vs. part time protects budgets and training plans and helps with scoping out your pipeline recruitment.

Overview: What is seasonal employment?

When you have people working seasonally, they are only active with your company for a short time. As you learn to expect times of higher demand, you can plan accordingly (and ahead of time) to bring on board several temporary employees who will just work during those peak seasons.

Depending on your state’s rules regarding minimum wage, onboarding seasonal workers can help protect you from needing to worry about rising individual paychecks, blended overtime, and more.

Types of seasonal work

Seasonal work can vary from business to business with different needs and busy seasons. You may need extra servers to help with summer season diners, or you may need to recruit more retail workers around the holidays. Depending on your line of work, your seasonal needs and times will change.

1. Holiday retail and seasonal workers

The most common types of seasonal work come in the form of holiday jobs. Whether it’s extra retail workers at stores or increased warehouse help for inventory control, the holidays provide a big seasonal boom. 2020 is seeing a coronavirus seasonal effect, too, as more full-time jobs have disappeared while online shopping has increased, leading to more warehouse and inventory seasonal work opening up.

A crowded shopping mall with people doing seasonal shopping during the holidays.

Busy shopping seasons increase the demand for retail workers. Source:


2. Summer seasonal employees

Seasonal jobs aren’t just for the holiday months. Hospitality and entertainment businesses, in particular, tend to need more employees during the summer.

During the summer, pools and beaches need more lifeguards, while restaurants in summer tourist areas should expect to ramp up service over the summer holidays and then not need seasonal help in the fall and winter months.

How to hire and manage seasonal workers

Seasonal workers are handled a bit differently than your regular full-time employees. Their roles are more specific and short-lived, so you can refocus your hiring and training around immediate needs rather than long-term potential growth.

1. Determine your seasonal busy times

Not all businesses run on the same schedule, so your need for temporary employment may not sync with everyone else’s. Knowing your expected spikes in business will let you plan for hiring exactly when you need to.

Do you run a restaurant near a resort? Your busy season will likely be warm, vacation months. Are you operating a retail store? Your need for seasonal workers will most likely align more with holiday shopping. Once you have a clear idea of your busiest times, you can plan ahead for hiring.

2. Budget

Seasonal workers still need to be factored into financial planning. Since they are short-term and generally part-time workers, you usually will not need to factor in additional hiring costs such as health insurance and bonuses.

You will still need to budget how many seasonal working hours you can afford to add weekly versus how many you are projected to need, while also planning out your budget for job postings. Don’t forget to include paid training time as part of your investment.

3. Source and recruit

Now comes the time to find your ideal candidates. By posting job advertisements in various places — don’t forget multiple job boards, such as Indeed and LinkedIn — you increase your applicant pull. You should have specific qualifications you’re looking for listed in the job posting, as well as the expected seasonal nature.

A sign outside an establishment with “for hire” written on it.

Start your recruiting early enough to allow for training time and attracting the right applicants. Source:


Get creative with your recruiting and expand beyond traditional postings to include social media advertising, in-store flyers, or even an applicant tracking system (ATS) for direct targeting. You will need to give your job ads a few weeks to get noticed.

ATS resumes can be scanned automatically for desired keywords, ensuring you the best fit. Look into HR software solutions to keep track of the hiring process and candidate status along the way.

As part of this step, be upfront about the expectations and the planned period of work. While some seasonal hires may transition into full-time employees, be sure to be clear about the expected timeframe so you don’t mislead applicants.

4. Train with intention

Once you have made your necessary hires, you still will need to plan time for training and ramping up. Before your seasonal newbies start working with customers, they need to get acclimated.

Since they will only be an active part of your workforce for a short time, you can get a bit more specific and intentional with training than you would with regular employees. Figure out what positions they will be expected to work, and train them only on a few select tasks and skills. For example, if they will only be using the cash register or working in the stock room, you don’t need to train them in other areas.

A shorter and more specific training plan lets you get everything done quickly and more efficiently. However, don’t cut corners on the basics of what they will need to know or on company policies. They should still feel just as included in the business and just as comfortable as current workers.

5. Make them feel valued

Seasonal workers are genuinely helping you out, so it’s crucial for them not to feel like there’s a difference in how they’re treated compared to the regular staff. The same considerations given to regular employees, such as scheduling, hours, conflicts, etc. should be given to seasonal workers.

6. Keep in touch

Never burn a sturdy bridge. Even after the busy season is over, you may want to bring seasonal workers on permanently, or you’ll potentially want to stay in touch for future opportunities.

Busy seasons occur every year. So being able to call on seasonal workers you already have good relationships with — and who are familiar with your business — during those busy times saves a lot of time, money, and stress.

Seasonal workers are an asset

As you look to your busy holiday season, keep in mind your pool of temporary help. From recruiting and hiring to training and nurturing relationships, prepare yourself for a successful holiday by ramping up your seasonal workforce with intention.

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