As Spring feels like it might be approaching & thoughts maybe turn to summer holidays, it’s a time of year for many businesses to consider planning for additional staffing requirements.

If you rely on seasonal staff, does it sometimes feel like you’ve only just learnt everyone’s names before it is time to say goodbye again?

Forget motivation, high performance or employee engagement – does it sometimes it feels like enough of a challenge to just get them to turn up looking tidy, without a hangover and do the job without a complaint?!

The first challenge is to recruit the right people in the first place. Apply the same rigorous application process to seasonal staff as you do to your permanent employees. Don’t settle for second best just because they won’t be with you for long. Aim to have only the very best employees who will do a great job and enjoy working for you so that both you & they will want them to return next year.

Consider the best places to find great job applicants. If you need staff with specific skills or experience, target your advertising to attract those candidates. If you need staff in the summer what are those same people likely to be doing in the winter and where are they doing it? Can you target your job adverts to the places they are living, the websites they visit or the publications they read?

At interview ensure that potential employees have realistic expectations about the job and that these match yours. If they have visions of topping up the tan when you know that they will be busy inside the ice cream kiosk all day, or if they are looking forward to being in the pub with their mates every night when you’ll expect them to be taking a turn at evening shifts in the restaurant there will be disappointments within the first few weeks. Make sure everyone knows what the job really entails.

Think about involving your permanent staff in the recruitment process for their seasonal colleges to be confident that there will be a good fit on the team. If all of your staff are seasonal, perhaps ask experienced returners to be on the interview panel with you.

Explore ways to create a sense of team and community before people start work – this is really important if you have a lot of new starters all at the same time, and doubly so if they are moving away from home to come and work with you. You might think about a facebook group for employees, a series of welcome emails and messages, or opportunities for a social get together before the season starts.

Help new staff be ready to work for you by giving them information about the area and the local facilities as well as telling them all about your business, your customers and the expectations of the job role. If they are moving away from home to work for you, help them get to know the local area and to find the social scene that appeals to them.


Don’t miss out the legal stuff! Just because it’s a short term contract doesn’t mean you don’t need to bother putting anything in writing. In fact you want to be explicitly clear about the nature of the employment relationship and the duration of the contract. If you are providing accommodation you’ll need to cover the terms of this within any contracts you draw up too.

Once new staff are in position ensure you take them through an effective induction and provide all the necessary training and information they need to be effective members of your team as quickly as possible. Consider buddying them up with experienced employees. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that because they aren’t with you for long it isn’t worth the time or expense of providing that vital induction training.

Consider what motivates each seasonal employee – what do they hope to get out of working for you? Is it cash before going off to university, saving for a round-the-world trip, the opportunity to move away from home for the first time, needing a good reference to help secure long term work, a break in routine from their longer term career or maybe trying out new experiences? Find out what is important to each employee and tap into this to ensure they remain motivated and keen to work for you.

Get it right and you’ll have employees remaining loyal for the duration of the season, wanting to return in future years, and recommending their friends come and work for you – saving you time, energy & money in recruiting and retaining team members and ensuring these temporary employees are a valuable addition to your business.

Written and published for Champions of Small Business by Sam Swinstead vivoHR


Free eBook!

Simply provide your details to receive your free ebook '7 Questions For Sure-fire Success As An Employer'. You will then receive important legal updates, HR tips and important news right into your inbox.

By the way, we can't stand spam so be assured that we will never share your information. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!