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Seasonal employment. For many industries, it’s the lifeblood of their operations. Some offer season-specific services only and depend solely on short-term employees, while others supplement their staff with additional help during their busiest months. Working in a sports or recreation based facility, it’s likely you hire or have considered hiring seasonal staff. Understanding the ins and outs of the seasonal hiring process not only saves you time and money but sets you up for year-round success.

Pros of hiring seasonal employees

Cost Savings: Hiring seasonal workers is good for the bottom line because you are paying them only when you need them. These employees don’t typically work enough hours to receive overtime pay or benefits, reducing payroll and other administrative costs.

Temporary Relationship: You do all you can to hire employees that are a good fit for your organization. Occasionally, however, an employee turns out not to be a good fit. The temporary nature of seasonal employment can be a relief in these situations.

Trial Employment: Conversely, when you bring on seasonal help, you may find some excellent employees that are a great fit for your organization. If the need exists, you can extend their employment beyond the busy season or connect with them down the road when a permanent position becomes available.

Cons of hiring seasonal employees

Employee Dependability Challenges: Due to the nature of seasonal work and limited benefits, seasonal workers may not possess the motivation or work ethic of your permanent employees. Clarifying expectations early on, offering employee incentives and re-hiring excellent seasonal workers can help curb this common problem.

Less Training Time: You likely won’t have time for a thorough onboarding process which can mean that seasonal employees are underequipped to do their jobs well.

Tips for hiring seasonal employees


Get an early start: It’s never too early to seek out seasonal help and it will make for a larger pool of qualified candidates to pick from as well as more time for onboard training. As an example, if your outdoor rink typically opens in November or December, begin advertising in August.

Write the right job description: While it’s always important to write a detailed job description that will attract the right candidates, it is even more critical when hiring for a seasonal position. Think about the essential skills or experience needed for the position. Be honest about the aspects of the job that may not be for everyone (such as working in cold temperatures). Add in a benefit or two that would attract the desired candidate. If posting online, research frequently searched keywords for the position and use them. Here is an example of a job for a warming house attendant using these tips:

Warming House Attendant – Seasonal Help (Evenings, 20 hours per week)
Are you a student with evening availability who wants to get paid while you study? As a Warming House Attendant for the City, you’ll be servicing skaters, running the resurfacer, and cleaning and organizing the rental skate room between the hours of 4pm-10pm. You’ll need to work well in a cold, outdoor environment and have a valid driver’s license. We offer paid breaks to catch up on homework or review for that chemistry test. Apply today!

seasonal employeesHire your customers: Who better to work for your company than existing customers? They possess a working knowledge of your brand and company culture and are probably excited to talk about it with others. Offering an employee discount incentive is an easy way to attract customers for seasonal work!

Job search engines and social media: Job search engines are a helpful way to attract the attention of people already searching for seasonal employment. Posting on social media allows those who aren’t looking for employment to share or tag those who are. (Think of an aunt whose nephew will be home for the summer and may be interested in a summer lifeguarding gig posted on Facebook).

Employee referral program: Like attracts like, right? So tap into your loyal, hardworking employee pool then make it worthwhile for them to recruit others. Tell employees you’re looking to hire seasonal help and ask them to send friends and family members your way who are in the market for seasonal work. Offer a bonus or other incentive to employees when recruits complete their employment term.

Perform exit interviews: Never quit learning! Exit interviews are ripe with opportunity. Get feedback from your seasonal employees. What worked and what didn’t? Then continually refine your process year in and year out.

But you don’t have to take our word for it!

Jeffrey Hays, Operations Director at The Winter Club of Lake Forest in Illinois, runs a two-sheet outdoor ice rink in the winter and the pool in the summer. Here’s what he has to say regarding hiring seasonal employees:

I’ve hired up to 25 seasonal employees for both winter and summer for the past five years. Clearly, it’s easier to hire for summer as finding reliable, hard-working, part-time employees to work outside in the cold is more difficult. But achieving success in both seasons can be done. I’ve been fortunate in developing a model that allows for the stronger core groups to return the following year and help recruit additional employees. By engaging returning employees that we already know and trust to help recruit new seasonal employees is our key to success. First, they understand the community, mission and team concept that we are trying to foster. They understand, firsthand, the type of employees we need and who will do well in this system. Secondly, it empowers them with some level of contribution to the present and future success of our team. They accept a certain level of responsibility by engaging people they know will be successful in our system and that won’t create problems for the team dynamic. By introducing this concept in this summer’s hiring process, we were able to fill all of our summer positions in just three weeks.

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