Hiring season can be painful for everyone: the applicants, the hiring team, your finance department, and your current employees. What can you do to make seasonal hiring easier on everyone involved? These three strategies for seasonal hiring and onboarding will make a difficult transition smoother – and help you get your business back to ‘business as usual’ this holiday season.
Talk to Current Employees
Before you enlist dozens of new employees to help you round out your holiday season, have a chat with your current workers. Does anyone want to take on more hours? If your current employees want to work a bit more, there’s no need to hire quite so much additional help. They already know the ropes, so you don’t need to worry about training. And they’ll appreciate the extra hours. Even if you’re paying overtime, you’re likely to save money in the long run. The cost of advertising for, interviewing, hiring, and training a new seasonal employee likely outweighs the additional expense of overtime pay.
If your current employees aren’t interested in taking on more hours, make seasonal hiring easier by asking them for recommendations. They may know of friends or acquaintances looking for seasonal work. More than 70% of people get a job through networking. Leverage the social network of current employees to find seasonal employees who will be excited to join the team. It’s a win for everyone – your new hire gets a job, your current employee gets to help out a connection, and you have another position filled.
Know the Labor Laws
The last thing you want is to run afoul of local or federal labor laws regarding seasonal employees. Talk with your hiring team to make sure they are representing the seasonal jobs correctly. Are workers full time, part time, or independent contractors? Detail the duration of employment in writing to avoid confusion when the season ends. Do you need to offer health benefits? Under the Affordable Care Act, you may need to provide health insurance for employees who work over 30 hours a week for more than 120 days. The rules for health insurance are complex; familiarize yourself with them before you start hiring, so you don’t have to pay a penalty later on.
You can make seasonal hiring easier by following the same procedures you’d use for a full-time employee. Collect the appropriate forms, including W4s or W9s. Track hours and attendance for each employee, so you have documentation if there’s ever a question about whether or not laws were followed. Remember, anti-harassment, retaliation, and discrimination laws are just as applicable for seasonal employees. Go through your employee handbook and look at each benefit. Will your seasonal employees be entitled to these benefits? Make the qualifications for each benefit clear, so employees don’t claim that they are entitled to them later on. Lastly, a thorough onboarding process is essential.
Onboarding is just as important for seasonal employees as it is for traditional ones – if not more so. In addition to the conventional onboarding process, develop opportunities for your seasonal employees to train on the job as well. Have each seasonal employee spend at least a day or two shadowing a more experienced colleague. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss each employee’s progress, and to answer any questions he or she might have. Consider expanding your onboarding program to add occasional training sessions before or after closing, when seasonal employees can role play different scenarios and practice their skills.
Don’t neglect your seasonal employees just because they’re only going to be around for a few short months. They have a strong influence on your bottom line during this busy season. The holiday season may only last a few months, but it can account for as much as 30% of annual sales in some industries, according to the National Retail Federation. Follow seasonal hiring best practices, educate yourself on the labor laws, and make sure you’re coaching and training your new hires throughout their tenure. These strategies will make the holidays a bit cheerier for everyone.