The holiday season is just around the corner! To leverage the season’s opportunities and keep your business growing, you need to hire and manage a terrific team of seasonal employees. The key is developing a plan before the busy season begins to set up your entire team – permanent and seasonal staff – for success. Here are some proven tips for finding and managing great seasonal employees who will enhance your busy season and help your permanent staff enjoy it more, too.
1. Create your hiring plan now
Whether this is your first holiday season or your thirtieth, it’s important to have a seasonal employee plan. First, talk to your existing team about availability during the holiday season. Some of your employees may have extra time available, which can save you time and money on hiring and training costs. But you’ll likely need seasonal employees to fill in coverage gaps, too.
Put together a plan that includes job descriptions, pay scale, scheduling hours/windows, and anticipated end dates. If available, use historical data from your past seasonal periods to get a better understanding of your needs.
If this is your first seasonal cycle, though, do your best to anticipate fluctuations. Your financial team (whether it’s your financial manager or your accountant) can also provide guidance to ensure you’re ready.
2. Ensure you have the financial capacity to fulfill your plan
Review your business financials to ensure you have the capacity to pay your seasonal employees – including wages, taxes, insurance, and other employment-related expenses (like additional insurance coverage and uniforms).
Assess your cash flow so that you can appropriately plan for several months ahead. If you’re short on funds, talk to a reputable lender that specializes in helping small businesses with working capital and other business-related needs. . With the right financing in place now, you’ll reduce your stress and have the funds you need for a great holiday season.
3. Reach out now to secure a great holiday season team
To get the best seasonal employees, you need to start recruiting now.
Employee and customer referrals can be great resources for temporary employees. You can also reach out to local high schools and colleges, retirees, teachers, and others who may have extra time during the holiday season, too.
Advertise within your business and on your social platforms. You can also use online job listing websites such as ZipRecruiter and Indeed. And remember, some of your best potential team members won’t be local during the hiring process (such as college students who are away at school), so offer alternative interview options, such as Zoom or phone interviews.
4. Create and communicate training plans
Ensure that your seasonal employees have the necessary training. Although they’re only onsite for a short time, the impression they leave is lasting.
Set clear expectations at the hiring stage, budget and schedule a day or two of training for each seasonal employee (as is relevant to your business), and be consistent about performance expectations through the duration of their employment.
5. Plan ahead for reasonable accommodations
Understanding your permanent and seasonal employees’ needs will create better work relationships all around. Be open to making reasonable accommodations for your employee needs around the holiday season and create a schedule and environment that works for all of your employees.
6. Comply with labor laws
Keep clear and compliant employment records for your seasonal employees, just as you do for permanent staff. Make sure that you’re tracking hours, wages, and any performance issues. If you’re not 100% certain about whether your business is in compliance, seek the help of a qualified attorney.
One of the most important regulations you’ll want to know is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). FLSA requires employers to pay covered non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.
If seasonal hiring make you hit the 50-employee threshold, you’ll also likely be required to fully comply with all FLSA and Family Medical Leave Act laws for your employees. This is a situation where you’ll need to budget for additional benefits and insurance.
7. Know when to let seasonal employees go
According to FLSA, a seasonal employee is someone who’s hired for a position for with annual employment at 20 weeks or less, collectively. The period of employment begins each calendar year at approximately the same part of the year.
For example, if you hire additional sales and stock staff to work from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve each year, these are seasonal employees. As such, they may be exempt from certain FLSA requirements. The best way to know what’s required is to review your seasonal hiring plans (and letting them go when the holiday cycle ends) with your CPA, financial manager, human-resources team, relevant consultants, and a labor attorney.
If you’ve hired employees on a seasonal basis, be sure to wrap up the seasonal period on time. And if you’ve decided to transition some of your seasonal staff to permanent employment, review the laws to ensure you stay in compliance.
A solid plan and financing now can benefit you for years With the right plan in place, you can develop a team of seasonal employees who are committed to success, often returning year after year. Having the funds in-hand to move forward with your seasonal employee plan can be as simple as working with the right small business lender.
Pursuit is a leading small business lender throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. We have more than 15 loan options and a line of credit that can help you meet your working capital needs and take the stress out of seasonal sales cycles. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you grow your business.