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Seasonal hiring: HR’s guide to hiring during the holiday crunch

The holiday season can come with its own set of frenetic requirements for many companies. Meeting them naturally requires quick seasonal employee hiring for the business.

However, hiring holiday season workers is easier said than done. Most HRs face the mammoth task of sourcing and recruiting the right talent in time for the holiday season. How do you do it? 

In this guide, we are going to touch upon various aspects of seasonal hiring, including how to implement practical seasonal hiring strategies that take care of the holiday hiring crunch and how the advent of AI in recruitment can play its role.

We also discuss post-hiring steps of accommodating temporary employees in an efficient manner without disrupting the ongoing workflow. 

Before we tap into the problem, let’s look dive deeper into seasonal hiring definition, trends, and stats to understand the urgency of the situation.

What is seasonal hiring or seasonal employment?

Seasonal hiring refers to employment that is of a seasonal nature, i.e. for a particular festive period, season, and duration. This is a type of temporary hiring contract and the employee may or may not be re-hired later on.

In contrast to offering permanent employment, employers go with seasonal hiring practices to meet higher production, retail, or consumer demand by companies that recur at certain times of the year. 

Seasonal hiring vs Temporary hiring

Now, you may have heard yourself use the terms seasonal hiring and temporary hiring interchangeably. So, we’d want to clarify right away that seasonal and temporary employees are not the same!

Temporary employees are usually recruited to fill in for regular employees who are absent or to fill up gaps in the workforce of a business. Temporary workers are often needed in peak periods or to compensate for the leave taken by a permanent or full-time employee.

If a company recruits temporary workers via a recruiting agency, the worker will be on lease with the staffing agency and will not be a direct worker for the company. 

In contrast, seasonal employees are temporarily recruited whenever additional help is required by any organization during the holiday season or any other period of the year. Companies may have to recruit seasonal workers in order to meet shopping and other demands during festive periods.

This is more for sales, retail, shipping, and others, who may have to recruit seasonal professionals in order to stay in sync with their periodic or festive workloads. 

Seasonal employees are hired on a part-time basis, lowering payroll costs overall. They may have to work varying hours or late shifts per the business’s needs. 

What causes a hiring crunch during the holiday season?

The holiday season brings its fair share of challenges, with businesses either having to grapple with higher orders, more production, more sales pressure at retail outlets, and the like. Hence, naturally, since this demand occurs only at particular times of the year, it is hard to be well-stocked in terms of manpower all the time. A few statistics should be observed in this regard. 

So, what’s behind all those holiday jobs hiring now ads? Do they actually succeed in getting more entrants through the door at companies? Below we discuss a few statistics that presents several interesting insights about seasonal hiring.

194,000 jobs were successfully added in September by employers, which is lower than 366,000 in August, according to reports [1]. In fact, leisure and hospitality companies added fewer than 100,000 jobs for months [2].

UPS, known for being one of the most popular seasonal hiring companies in the US, has already confirmed 100,000 seasonal openings [3] while committing to providing job roles in only 30 minutes, in place of a hiring process of two weeks [4].

While another giant, Walmart, is onboarding 20,000 supply chain staff members [5]

Now, coming to the need for companies to do it better, seasonal hiring is something that can go wrong if done inefficiently. Reports indicate how application forms that are easier to fill up may lead to 2-3% higher rates of applications [6].

So, there is a clear need to ensure a friendly and convenient process, along with emphasizing clear job duties,  benefits, communication, and attracting seasonal hires to your company. 

Benefits of hiring seasonal employees

Seasonal employee hiring comes with its own share of advantages. The major ones include saving time and the cost of hiring while improving work output during strenuous times.

Evaluation of Employees

There is zero obligation to hire an employee if he/she is not a suitable fit for your organization. However, the temporary employment period will give you sufficient time and scope to understand temporary employees who are suited for permanent roles in your organization and if you wish to rehire them again. 

Lower Payroll and Time Savings

Hiring only when you require workers will naturally help you lower the payroll. In usual scenarios, seasonal professional employees are part-time workers. They often come with lower rates as compared to full-timers, and they may not always work as many hours in order to receive overtime. This will lower your payroll overall, saving money and time greatly. 

Better Employee Morale

Burnt-out or worn-out employees are also low on productivity, which ultimately affects the company. Your regular workforce can catch a break as recruiting managers can add seasonal people on a temporary basis to meet demand and take care of pressing needs during the holiday season. This contributes to better employee morale as well. 

That said, lawmakers are alert of the malpractices and the challenges of seasonal hiring for both employers and employees. So, they have various legalities to ensure that benefits are availed by both parties fairly. In the next section, we look at such legal aspects in the US.  

Legal aspects that need to be examined

As mentioned, it’s not just about being able to go about seasonal employee hiring randomly. There are several legal aspects that are worth noting in this regard. The most important ones of them include: 

  • As per FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), in some States, part-timers are those working for less than 30-35 hours each week. They are usually paid hourly wages while following the same regulations as their full-time counterparts while getting safety policy coverage under OSHA, without employment benefits. 
  • Seasonal businesses are those not operating for more than 7 months in a year, with average receipts for the chosen 6-month period not surpassing 1/3 or 33% of the average for the other six months. These companies are not under FLSA regulations. 
  • Those between 14-15 years of age may be employed only during non-school hours for jobs that are not hazardous and within hourly limits. Those between 16-17 do not have limits in terms of hours, but several work restrictions also apply. 

Checking applicable regulations for your State, region, and the country is always a must for not just employers but also for those looking to land a job under seasonal hiring trends.

Best seasonal hiring strategies 

Now that you know the need, benefits, and regulations around seasonal hiring, the big question is what are some effective strategies to hire seasonal employees? Well, there are some tried and tested ones b the experts in the field. The following are considered the most critical of those that you can implement methodically:

Assess your requirements

The first and most crucial step is proper identification of your peak or busy working season. You should not copy other competitors or fellow organizations in the same segment; instead, analyze historical information and trends pertaining to your company and then go about the process. What you have to find out is the stretch when consumer demand hits the roof and when it comes down. 

Allocate budget & resources 

Once you recognize this timing of supply-demand imbalance, prepare for budgeting and resource allocation in advance. Consider costs like hourly wages, perks, overtime, healthcare, and other benefits if it is applicable, bonuses, etc., plus the personnel in your team for seasonal employees onboarding, training, and management.

Start timely hiring

Hiring seasonal employees is about drawing the right kind of people to your organization. You should always start as early as possible. This will give you time to hire suitable employees without rushing the process unnecessarily. If your holiday season is only a few days away, you are probably too late to seek good workers this year. The main reason behind this is that you will not have time in hand to train the new hires. 

Look at the right place. for right folks

Do a persona assessment of the type of employees that ideally fits your vacancies. If you are looking at getting high-school or college part-timers, then you should reach out to university/school bulletin boards and platforms. You can go for job advertisements that are fun and motivating in this regard. If you are looking for skilled personnel in a particular space who are open to working part-time as a gig, then refine your search and avenues accordingly. 

An AI recruitment tool is highly efficient in this regard of its programmatical job posting, a wide network of varied candidates, and highly-granular filtering features.

Use past references and employee references

If you have hired professionals to work for your company earlier, then you can always connect with them to see if they can take up temporary job positions. This will save time on training and also give you people who have already gained experience at your organization. 

A large majority of seasonal workers are school or college students, freelancers, and other gig workers. Hence, along with holiday jobs hiring now advertisements, build your own employee referral program. This will help you get more candidates in the door since employees will have incentives to get more friends and colleagues to come and work at your company.

Flexi schedules are helpful

Many seasonal workers are drawn to companies offering flexible work schedules. You can use suitable software tools for scheduling in this regard. Having mobile-friendly options is a great way to get the tracking and monitoring jobs out of the way seamlessly as well. 

Future growth options

If possible, include a few growth options for seasonal workers, i.e. opportunities to apply for full-time positions based on performance, confirmations for future seasonal openings upon satisfactory results this year, development and training programs, career-building resources, and so on. This will help you get better workers into the talent pool. 

Pre-screen prospects

Seasonal demand means a rapid pace of work and you should be completely sure about each new recruit being skilled, experienced, and reliable enough to perform their task. The solution lies in pre-screening candidates. Use recruitment tech to pre-qualify candidates based on your needs and expectations. You can automatically pre-qualify resumes and screen them before filtering and even assessing candidates swiftly in an automated manner if that is required. When you get down to the actual brass tacks, you will have narrowed down the most eligible candidates automatically for your seasonal requirements. 

Focus on interview procedures

Job interviews have a vital role to play in introducing the two parties (the employee and employer) and understanding each other’s offerings and limitations to make an informed decision about the feasibility of seasonal hiring. 

Employers are suggested to keep a list of questions ready with expected answer blueprints. You should also be respectful of the time and energy spent by the candidate. Avoid biases as well. 

If required, you can automate the interviewing procedure with AI-based hiring tools that also help with candidate ranking, candidate engagement, and scheduling.  

Proper training and management of seasonal workers

Now that you have hired all the seasonal workers that you require, it is time to invest time and energy in their training and management for a smooth season. 

Training your employees should be for a specific goal and should not dilute its focus. Understand that seasonal employees do not have to learn or understand everything about the company and its work culture.

You should focus on training your part-time employees specifically for the job role they have to carry out, how they can do it, what they need to know and uphold, and so on. You can have regular staff members help them out as well. T

That said, ensure that regular employees are aware of the fact that seasonal workers cannot be expected to know and fulfill everything. 

The treatment of your seasonal workers should not differ from how you treat full-time employees. You should reward those doing great at their jobs and give them recognition as proper team members.

Give them responsibilities and expectations in the same fairly; not making them feel dispensable or neglected. It is only for your benefit that they are working during the holiday season, and you can possibly use them in the future as well. 

Takeaways

The idea of seasonal hiring seems economical and straightforward on paper – you have a business that witnesses peak demand in a particular season, so you bring in a few people to help you out as seasonal workers, offering compensation accordingly.

However, it has its own limitations not just in terms of finding, training, and managing these employees but also in terms of legalities & regulations.

To execute successful seasonal hiring, clarity on who, what, and when of hiring helps immensely. Using technology to streamline your recruitment and management aspects can accelerate the entire process. 

Organizations can explore AI recruitment tools that come with various features catering to a recruitment drive’s end—to—end process— from candidate sourcing (based on predefined parameters), consistent candidate communication, assessments, scheduling, interviews, and more.

Not only will this bring more qualified leads into the pipeline, but this will also ensure more time for relationship-building and training at the managerial levels.

 

FAQs


What is seasonal employment?

Seasonal employment is an employment opportunity that recurs at the same time each year but for a limited duration.

What is the difference between temporary and seasonal employment?

Temporary employment is either for filling up the absence of a permanent employee or for filling up other gaps. Seasonal employment is when employees are hired in specific seasons every year. 

What is an example of a seasonal job?

Examples of seasonal jobs include festive workers, holiday drivers, holiday sales reps and retail sales assistants at stores, and so on. These positions are generated only on a seasonal basis and at particular times of the year when businesses have higher demand than the rest of the year.

How do you attract seasonal employees? 

Start with ideal candidate profiling for your vacancies, then post jobs strategically or take the help of current employees for reference. The idea is to ensure the benefits and flexibility of seasonal employment reaches the target candidate pool timely.

An AI recruitment tool can be used for attracting the best seasonal employees, sourcing talent from multiple channels, and filtering and assessing them basis the pre-defined parameters. 

How do you convert seasonal to permanent hires?

Companies can examine seasonal workers for performance and based on their right fit, can recruit them permanently with full benefits and compensation as other full-time staff members. 

Do seasonal workers get the same benefits as permanent ones?

Seasonal workers may get some benefits and incentives, but they are not at par with permanent employees, who have a wider range of benefits, perks, and wages. 

What does full-time seasonal mean?

As per US regulations, a full-time, seasonal employee means someone who will work the full schedule of 80 hours on a bi-weekly basis. Do check out the policy in your region for better understanding.

Resources 

[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

[2] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/13/business/companies-hiring-holiday-jobs/index.html

[4] https://www.ebiinc.com/50-real-time-stats-that-prove-what-job-seekers-want-in-their-next-role

[5] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210824005192/en/Michaels-to-Hire-Over-20000-Employees-for-the-Holiday-Season

[6] https://www.apollotechnical.com/job-search-statistics/