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Totaljobs Editor
8 min read

7 strategies for hiring seasonal workers

Industries that experience increased seasonal demand often rely on temporary workers for success during these periods. Explore strategies for recruiting essential seasonal workers in our comprehensive guide.

Numerous organisations are impacted by seasonal changes in consumer behaviour. For example, a 50% surge in e-commerce sales throughout October, November and December means hiring seasonal workers is vital for retailers looking to benefit from heightened demand in the build-up to Christmas.

Other sectors are also impacted. Events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean call centres receive more customer service queries, whilst Royal Mail require additional staff to satisfy an increased demand for parcel delivery. Furthermore, businesses in the hospitality sector will often add to their workforce during their busiest months, typically throughout the summer.

Whatever their circumstances, employers need a strategy in place for seasonal hiring that allows them to act quickly, capitalise on these shifts in demand and hit their strategic goals.

In this article, we walk through the process of hiring temporary workers so your organisation can do just that.

1. Determine your requirements

Getting the right people in place at the right time can make or break your peak season. If you don’t hire enough part-time or full-time employees during the busy season, competitors that do will be better placed to meet the changing demands of consumers.

However, it’s important to note that organisations that over-hire seasonal staff might find that their profits don’t cover their additional staffing costs. As a result, it’s vital to understand exactly what your requirements are before you start hiring.

An established organisation should have access to data from previous years that can provide a steer regarding future requirements for hiring seasonal workers. New organisations, on the other hand, may need to take more of a trial-and-error approach.

The main thing for these businesses is to understand what is affordable. This will require exploring what is available in terms of budget and determining the resources they can use to bring new employees on board on a short-term basis.

2. Start hiring early

Once you know the requirements, it’s important to start hiring early.

If you leave it until the last minute, there’s no guarantee the workers you need won’t already be snapped up by the competition. Hiring workers takes a bit of time, whether they are permanent, full-time staff or seasonal employees on a more flexible contract.

For example, retailers such as John Lewis and Waitrose have previously revealed plans to hire additional staff for the Christmas period months in advance, highlighting their understanding of how crucial this is to meeting their long-term goals and objectives.

3. Write optimised job descriptions

Just like for permanent staff roles, job descriptions and job ads are central to the process of finding seasonal workers to meet short-term increases in demand. So, to attract and appeal to top-tier candidates who are a good fit for the role, job descriptions targeted at seasonal workers should:

  • Make it clear what the role entails.
  • Use relevant keywords, highlighting words like ‘seasonal’ and ‘temporary’.
  • Detail the exact job title and clearly outline the responsibilities and previous experience requirements.
  • Highlight the benefits, such as loyalty bonuses or rewards. These can not only attract applications but also encourage workers to return the following year.

4. Advertise the roles

Knowing where to advertise seasonal positions to ensure they reach jobseekers looking for temporary work is crucial to building the workforce required to handle increased demand during a busy time of year.

In order to increase the chances of their job postings reaching suitable candidates, employers can:

  • Appeal to students: Students are often open to finding work during seasonal peaks due to their term dates, so targeting colleges and universities with job ads is a good place to start.
  • Leverage recruitment platforms: Totaljobs is a good option for advertising seasonal jobs, with many organisations using our platform to fill temporary roles.
  • Utilise jobs portal: The UK government has a jobs search portal specifically for seasonal workers, along with advice on what sort of jobs are available and where to find them.

5. Leverage networks

Using your existing network is also an invaluable way to source seasonal workers for your organisation. This can include:

  • Using your current employees: Existing members of staff may know people who are looking for seasonal work and are therefore well placed to recommend them for a role. Implementing an employee referral scheme is a one way to encourage this.
  • Considering former employees: Former employees are a great way to extend talent pools. You may have potential boomerang employees, who have left but would be open to returning to work with you again, even if it’s just in the short term.
  • Reaching out to previous seasonal workers: If you’ve hired temporary seasonal workers before, they may be open to returning. These workers come with the added benefit of having some familiarity with the role and organisation, and therefore should require less training.
  • Utilising social media: People often use social media platforms to hunt for seasonal work. Put out the message on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and any other platform where you have an active network.

6. Streamline the hiring process

Streamlining the hiring process for seasonal workers helps to ensure that these employees can be onboarded quicker and easier, and are therefore ready to help meet the increased demand of consumers.

The simplest way to do this is during the interview process. While asking competency-based interview questions is still vital to ensuring a candidate has the competencies required for success, putting together a more concise list of questions than you would use when hiring permanent employees can make the process more efficient.

For example, when interviewing a candidate for a temporary role, interviewers could ask:

  • Have you ever worked in a position with a seasonal rush?
  • Do you understand this is not a permanent role?
  • Why are you looking for seasonal work?
  • Do you have a flexible schedule?

Furthermore, to ensure a streamlined and effective hiring process for the next busy season, employers can look to give priority to workers likely to return for future temporary work.

It can also be useful to get feedback from workers to understand how the process can be improved for future hiring. This can be gathered by holding exit interviews at the end of their contract.

7. Ensure effective onboarding

You’ve streamlined your hiring process to get the hands-on deck that you need during a busy period, but onboarding these new workers quickly and effectively is vital to ensuring they can hit the ground running.

While it can take weeks to get a new full-time hire up to speed, seasonal workers need to be ready to do their part much faster. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to expedite this process. This includes:

  • Make sure all necessary paperwork is signed and filed swiftly.
  • Set up a quick and efficient seasonal worker training scheme, making clear their tasks and responsibilities, and providing practical examples if necessary.
  • Provide space for questions and answers about their roles.
  • Assign mentors or managers to oversee seasonal workers to make sure they get the hang of things in the first few days.
  • Do an evaluation after a few days to ensure there are no major gaps in knowledge.

    Set yourself up for seasonal success

    In industries characterised by sharp fluctuations in demand, hiring workers to help meet increased consumer needs is vital. Getting these employees onboard in a timely fashion has never been more important, with over half of managers admitting it’s becoming harder to recruit seasonal workers.

    As a result, employers should look to make workforce planning a key priority. This requires determining the volume of seasonal workers required well in advance and implementing a streamlined hiring process that ensures they are onboarded in time for the busy season.

    With a robust strategy for hiring seasonal employees, employers can build an agile workforce that allows them to capitalise on the opportunities that come with increased demand. Furthermore, by cultivating a rewarding environment and providing an exceptional employee experience, employers can improve their future hiring prospects by encouraging seasonal workers to return.