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It’s Officially Holiday Season: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Seasonal Employees

With winter approaching, employers in certain industries may need to hire temporary employees to help handle seasonal increases in demand. Even though seasonal employees are by definition short-term hires, cutting corners during the onboarding process can lead to long-term headaches. When hiring seasonal employees, avoid these top mistakes:

#1: Waiting too long.

Start early by assessing business needs and determining the number of seasonal workers you will need. Work with supervisors to make sure adequate staff will be in place and establish a plan for utilizing the additional help.

#2: Relaxing hiring standards.

The ramifications of a bad hire, whether temporary or full-time, can be significant. Prior to recruiting for an open position, write/review/update a job description for the position and establish the job-related criteria you will use to make your hiring decision. Vet each candidate carefully, with attention given to employment applications, resumes, interviews, references, and background checks, where applicable. Taking the time to look for quality workers can also benefit you in the future, since you’ll have qualified workers to call upon next season.

#3: Using only one recruiting method.

Solely relying on one or two recruiting methods could limit the quality and diversity of your applicant pool and increase the time it takes to fill the position. Consider recruiting channels that target workers who are specifically looking for seasonal work. For example, retirees have valuable skills and availability that may be a good match for seasonal jobs. College students on winter break may also be a good fit. Also, consider asking your existing employees whether they know anyone who is qualified and looking for seasonal work.

#4: Skipping orientation.

Failure to take the time to acclimate seasonal hires to your company culture, procedures, and expectations can lead to lower productivity and higher turnover. Once the seasonal candidate accepts the job, begin the process of welcoming and introducing him or her to your company. Prepare existing employees for the seasonal hire’s arrival and inform them of the work the new hire will be taking on. Also, effectively communicate the resources available to help seasonal hires get up to speed as quickly as possible.

#5: Neglecting training.

Even though seasonal employees are with you for a relatively short period, providing effective training is still critical for maintaining a productive, fair, and safe workplace. Seasonal employees should generally receive the same training as other new hires, such as training in anti-harassment, nondiscrimination, safety, and other important workplace issues.

#6: Overlooking compliance.

As you would with regular employees, make sure you comply with all applicable federal, state, and local employment laws. Hold seasonal employees to the same conduct standards as regular employees and enforce policies consistently. Additionally, ensure that your seasonal employees are treated fairly and are provided a safe and nondiscriminatory workplace. Finally, be sure to comply with new hire paperwork requirements, including:

  • Form I-9. Each new hire must complete an I-9 to verify work authorization.
  • Form W-4. All new hires must complete a W-4 to determine the amount of federal income tax to withhold from their wages. Some states also require a tax withholding form.
  • Notice of Coverage Options. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers must provide a Notice of Coverage Options to all new hires.
  • State and local notices. Many jurisdictions require that employers provide specific notices to employees at the time of hire.

#7: Failing to provide feedback.

Like regular employees, seasonal employees need regular feedback. Supervisors should provide performance feedback immediately following a behavior they’d like to reinforce or correct. Train supervisors on how to provide effective feedback and coaching and hold them accountable. Additionally, regularly check-in with seasonal hires to see how they’re transitioning into their role, and if they need any additional training or further clarification on workplace expectations.

#8: Not thinking about next year.

One way to reduce the costs and effort of recruiting seasonal employees is to encourage qualified workers to return the following year. Consider offering incentives to help improve retention, such as a bonus or pay raise to returning workers. Additionally, conducting exit interviews at the end of the season can help you identify what changes you can make to the workplace to improve retention.

Last words:

To help meet heightened seasonal demand, devote the time and resources needed to find and retain quality seasonal hires.

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