6 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees

The Holiday Season is almost upon us. It’s a time of big crowds, big sales, and (hopefully) big profits for small business owners. As the cash registers jingle, extra help is often needed to fill the holiday work schedule. Many entrepreneurs turn to seasonal staff to fill the gaps, with extra hands ensuring a pleasant customer service experience, and less stress from a logistical point of view.

If you’re getting your small business ready for the festive period, we’ve collected six tips to help make sure your seasonal hiring goes as smoothly as possible.

Check Your Past Performance

If you’re wondering how to scale your hiring for the holiday season, look back at how you did last year. Analysing past performance will allow you to successfully forecast this year’s needs. If you found yourself short of customer-facing staff in previous years, or you found lineups at the cash register were a little long, consider investing in additional manpower. Conversely, if you don’t have good records from previous years, make this the year you keep track of every detail. When you’re wondering how many staff to hire in future years, you’ll be glad you did.

Where to Look

You’ve identified how many staff you need, now it’s time to fill those positions. Considering how quickly you need these staff to hit the ground, it’s worth checking in with part-time employees you’ve worked with in the past. Not only will you be getting someone you know is trustworthy and capable, you also won’t have to worry about training them in the role. If you can’t fill the positions through personal connections, referrals can be a great tool to find the people you need. Lean on your professional network. Job sites such as Indeed and Monster are quick and easy to use.

Provide Great Training

Any employees you bring in for the holiday season will have to hit the ground running. It’s one of the busiest times of the year for small business, so ensuring staff have a smooth on-ramp is vitally important. Staff will need to know your product as well as you do. Act as a mentor to them, let them know you’re available to answer all questions Encourage them to become involved in all aspects of the business and, if you’re time constricted, enlist the help of senior employees for training. Just because an employee is temporary doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be as well trained as your regular staff.

Set Realistic Expectations

Before they apply, it’s important all potential candidates know where they stand. Someone looking for more of a long-term position needs to know up front that what they’re applying for is a temporary, seasonal position. Place this information prominently in the job posting. When you sit down to interview candidates, ask them if they’re specifically looking for a seasonal job, or they’re just settling for whatever’s available. It’s in your interests to hire staff who want to commit to a seasonal role. You don’t want to train a new member of staff who may potentially leave right in the thick of the busy period if they find employment elsewhere.

Know Your Legal Obligations

A member of staff may be temporary, but your obligations to them are not lessened in any way. The BC Employment Standards Act does not, for the most part, distinguish between seasonal and full-time employees. Section 63 does lay out a couple of important differences, as follows:

Employers are not required to provide termination notice (or wages in lieu thereof) to seasonal employees who:

  • are employed for a definite term and are aware of the exact date of termination at the time they commence employment;
  • are hired for specific work to be completed within a 12-month period and know at the time they are hired that their employment will end when the project is complete or by a specific date; or
  • are covered by a collective agreement that specifically provides employment terms for seasonal employees.

For further reading on this subject, Go2HR has laid out a handy guide featuring Employers’ Obligations to Seasonal Workers.

Don’t Cut Corners

Keep all financial interactions with seasonal staff above board. Place these staff on the payroll as you would a full-time employee, ensuring you don’t run into any issues with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Sure, it means extra paperwork initially, but putting them officially “on the books” means they’ll be easier to keep on following the conclusion of the holiday period.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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