Hiring seasonal workers is a cost-effective management strategy for both small business owners and large chain stores. But just like any business strategy, it’s one that can easily go wrong if you aren’t being careful about implementing it.
If executed poorly, the bad hiring and management of temps can cost business owners more than you may realize. The reason for this is simple: Hiring bad employees, whether full or part time, is bad for business. It’s bad for your customers. Bad shopping experiences can turn a loyal customer into a former customer very quickly.
Hiring the wrong people is also bad for your entire team. According to Gallup research, bad management practices that cause employee disengagement cost US business $450 – $550 billion per year.
For many restaurants, bars, retail stores and a variety of other business types, hiring seasonal workers is an absolute must. And as is the case with any process crucial to your business’s success, there’s no room for cutting corners if you want to do it the right way.
Here are four common mistakes you should make sure to avoid when hiring seasonal workers.
Not Maintaining High Hiring Standards
One of the most common mistakes that managers make is lowering hiring standards for seasonal workers. The common misconception that leads to this is that managers often believe that seasonal workers are simple placeholders who can’t do much harm to their business during their temporary stays.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The cost of lowering your hiring standards and employing bad workers is five times greater than the amount you are paying those employees, according to a study performed by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).
Make sure that your seasonal employees are checking all of the boxes that you would expect to be checked when looking for full-time staff.
Hiring seasonal employees who aren’t a good fit for your business will cost you in productivity, employee and customer satisfaction and, of course, revenue. You’re also losing money when eventually having to fire the underperforming employees and find a replacement. That’s money down the drain in training, wages, and recruitment that could be saved by making sure that you are as serious about hiring your seasonal workers as you are about finding permanent employees.
Most importantly, you should avoid the misconception that seasonal workers are less important because they aren’t going to be sticking around for more than a few months.
If you’ve found a hiring process that works for finding high quality full-time employees, use that same process for seasonal workers.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for seasonal employees either. Begin the process at least a month before you’re going to need them to start working so that you can take all the necessary steps for finding a solid seasonal employee that matches all of the criteria that you normally look for when hiring regular employees.
Skimping on Proper Training
In reality, you should be putting more effort into training your seasonal employees, not the other way around. Businesses hire seasonal employees when they need extra help during a busy time of the year or when there is a general shortage of available workers, whether due to vacations or other circumstances.
This puts a lot of pressure on seasonal workers because they are put in a position in which they need to be able to adapt and learn quickly. Even though they might not be working for long, you want to make sure that they are comfortable with their jobs while they are with you. That’s why putting them through your regular training program is essential.
As a manager, you should probably even be more hands-on with the training of seasonal workers than you are with regular employees because of the short learning curve.
The real cost of poor training is measured in the lost sales that badly trained seasonal workers can cause. At the end of the day, providing proper training to seasonal workers gives them the confidence they need to perform at a high level while they are working for you and ensures that your customers will get an experience that doesn’t vary much compared to the care they receive from your year-round employees.
Applying Different Standards
Just because they are not there for the long haul doesn’t mean that you should apply different standards to your seasonal workers. Don’t let workplace rules slide just because they are temporary workers. Stand behind your policies and apply them equally to all employees.
This should be a rule of thumb for two reasons. The first is that it will show your seasonal workers that they are going to be held responsible for the quality of their work and that poor performance isn’t tolerated from any employees, temporary ones included.
It also reassures your regular employees that there will be no special treatment given to seasonal workers. Keeping the playing field level for all employees is great for employee morale as it ensures that everyone being held to the same standards and that favoritism doesn’t exist.
It’s simple – treat seasonal employees as if they are full-time workers. Let them know from the start that the same rules and policies apply to everyone on the team.
Not Giving Feedback or Mentorship
Be a mentor to your seasonal staff and offer them support whenever possible. Take time to correct mistakes seasonal employees make and constructively criticize their work. Also, make sure you compliment them when they are doing something right. This will boost their confidence and productivity in turn.
One of the best ways to provide mentorship to your seasonal workers is to have them “shadow” your full-time workers. Allowing them to spend a few hours a day with more experienced employees will help them learn the ropes more easily and with less stress involved.
In the end, it’s all about making your seasonal employees feel like real employees. By doing so, you are also increasing the chances that they will enjoy working for you and perhaps want to come back at some point.
By providing a positive experience for your seasonal workers, you are not only keeping your customers happy, you are creating part-time employees you could potentially be able to rely on to step in and work for you on a regular basis and you might even get a great full-time employee out of the experience one day.