You won’t always be able to predict when your company needs some extra help. But if yours is like most businesses, there are times throughout the year when you know a spike in workload is coming and can prepare. It could be when tax time rolls around or when college interns say their goodbyes and head back to school. Or it could be right now. Whatever the situation, the solution is the same: seasonal employees.
Here is a closer look at a time when hiring seasonal employees can be particularly helpful to your business:
Turbulent tax season
If you work in accounting and finance and find yourself buried in piles of paperwork and looming deadlines, you’re probably in the midst of tax season. Businesses, both large and small, feel the pressure of tax season acutely. During this hectic time of year, staff members often face the prospect of working long hours to keep pace with heavy workloads. And, without enough support, they are at risk of burning out. (They may even be close to that mark already, according to recent research by our company.)
Seasonal temporary workers and contractors can serve as invaluable reinforcements during tax season. You might consider bringing in skilled accounting and finance professionals to assist primarily with tax-related work. Or, you could rely on these resources to manage more routine tasks, allowing your core team to focus on critical tax work while also keeping up with other important projects that require their expertise.
Summer staffing needs
It’s not unusual for companies to find themselves short-handed during the summer as more employees take time off. A Robert Half survey found that a majority of workers save their vacation time for June, July and August, and respondents plan to take an average of 10 days off this summer. Bringing in seasonal support can help stem productivity gaps and keep key projects on track.
Open enrollment periods
This is when employees throughout the United States sign up for health insurance plans and other benefit programs for the year ahead. Companies need to evaluate, coordinate and communicate the policies, practices and procedures, all while making sure data-entry tasks and day-to-day operations aren’t neglected.
The hectic holidays
Many businesses are extremely busy in November and December. Workplace stress levels can swell during the holidays when there are fewer employees around to help with the extra customer service duties and end-of-year responsibilities. Retailers, delivery and logistics companies, businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries, and others often need significant extra help during the lead-up to the holidays.
When you find yourself in this type of situation, you need an effective strategy to quickly find, win over and prepare highly skilled seasonal employees. Here are three critical steps.
1. Engage with a top staffing firm
A good relationship with a first-rate recruiter is essential to successful seasonal hiring. A specialized staffing agency like Robert Half knows the candidate marketplace in your industry and city. We have a database of millions of job seekers, including many that you and other companies wouldn’t have access to on your own.
Moreover, it can be challenging to evaluate and hire a large number of people in a short amount of time when you and your team are already stretched thin. A staffing agency can make this process much easier and help you identify and bring on board lots of seasonal employees at once. We can effectively evaluate experience and skills to make the right matches — and fast.
2. Be ready to make an offer
Just as you would with a candidate for a full-time position, assess potential seasonal employees based on the required skills and experience, performance expectations, personality, and corporate culture fit. Conduct reference checks to make sure you’ve made the best match possible.
But before you do all that, find out what range you should expect to pay. The market is competitive even for temporary workers today. If a recruiter is helping you hire seasonal help, they can work with you to ensure you offer compensation that meets the market standard. You also can use resources such as Robert Half’s annual Salary Guides.
3. Set clear expectations with seasonal employees
Even with a seasonal contractor, you need to have a strong sense of the specific duties and responsibilities of the job you’re staffing. If you’re working with a staffing agency, inform the recruiter of the time frame and key expectations, and make sure they are communicated to job candidates during the interview.
It’s a worthwhile exercise to write a detailed job description before you bring the interim worker on board, and go over it on the first day. Then stick with it, avoiding the temptation to give the seasonal employee whatever random assignment needs doing. One of the advantages is that in the event the temporary position becomes full time, you’ll be able to accurately evaluate how well the person fulfilled the job as you described it. Seasonal employees often make great candidates for full-time positions.
Whether you’re burdened by time-consuming open enrollment periods or facing staffing gaps left by outgoing interns, a little preparation can go a long way. Apply the hiring strategy outlined above to find the best seasonal employees who can provide extra support when there is a temporary increase in workload — and take the load off you and the rest of your staff.