It’s that time of the year again—your staff members are getting excited about their travel and vacation plans, while managers find they need to re-evaluate staffing needs for the upcoming season. In no time will the employees start clocking out and customers surging in, so help your team get ready with a straightforward shift scheduling process.

Reconciling business demands with employees’ needs

Depending on the industry and location, summer can either mean a dry spell or a peak season for your organization. Either way, it’s not business as usual, but your customers mustn’t notice that.

To adequately plan for the rise or the drop in demand, look into the data from the previous summer season. Don’t be surprised to find that year-on-year summer demand is virtually the same but dramatically different in comparison to other seasons. Rinse-and-repeat weekly shift schedules simply won’t work, as managers have to accommodate a dramatically different number of customers and leave requests. Instead, revenue forecasts and results, foot traffic, wait times, and even employee turnover rate will give you a solid foundation for the staffing plan.

Also, encourage employees to submit their vacation requests as early as possible, so managers have enough time to review them and notify staff members if there are scheduling conflicts and it’s necessary for them to find alternative dates. With a cloud-based employee scheduling software, it’s easy for scheduling administrators to view and manage leave requests while automatically factoring in potential conflicts and overlappings.

However you decide to handle leave management, it’s vital for the team morale that the PTO policy is transparent and the employees understand the process and how it can work in their favor. This is particularly important if you find you need to introduce so-called blackout periods for the busiest parts of the season when employees are not allowed to take time off.

Hiring extra help

In case the summer season is very slow for your organization, you might get by with only the skeleton crew. It’s more common, however, that you need support from seasonal workers to keep up with the customer demand. Hiring these workers should be planned and executed strategically, especially given the highly competitive job market and the limited supply of qualified labor.

Example: in their efforts to attract the best candidates for the season, an increasing number of employers opt to increase salaries for hourly workers, offering more than the minimum hourly wage required by the federal law ($7.25 per hour). In 2018, approximately 74 percent of hiring managers in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors—industries particularly sensitive to seasonal changes— announced they plan on paying an hourly wage of at least $11. Aside from the higher salary, companies offer benefits that were previously reserved for full-time employees: paid time off, health insurance, and employee discounts. Therefore, carefully consider how your business can attract top talent, and start the hiring process as early as possible so the team is prepared in time.

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Moreover, the HR department can approach seasonal hiring as an opportunity. According to some estimates, as many as 15% of summer workers join companies as a part of the permanent staff. Not only do these employees need to bring in specific skills and experience, but they also have to fit with team dynamics to maintain the required level of productivity and customer service. If you take the time to get to know the new staff members, train them and retain them during the entire season, you might end up with great candidates that will be ready and willing to join the team for the long term. On the flip side, not all workers will be the best fit and they might end up leaving the business before the season is over. To avoid last-minute changes, hiring managers need to stay on the lookout for candidates that can successfully replace the workers who decided to leave in the meantime.

Staffing for the summer season doesn’t need to be a shot in the dark, especially with robust workforce management tools available today. Humanity’s powerful engine can help through each step of the way, from building and distributing conflict-free staff schedules, to leave management, to making precise plans for upcoming demand. Regardless of the season, Humanity enables managers to ensure all shifts are adequately covered, with the right talent at the right location. Now you can plan your vacation in peace.