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5 Ways on How to Retain Seasonal Employees

Does your business experience an upswing in sales during the holidays? Is your business strictly seasonal, only hiring workers during the winter or summer seasons? If you own a business on Cape Cod or the Islands, then you most likely answered yes to one of these questions.

Hiring and recruiting talent for a year-round, full-time position can be challenging. Recruiting seasonal employees often presents a whole other set of unique challenges, and this year has been even more difficult as business owners have had to navigate hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of our seasonal workers can range from young workers, such as high school or college students, to retirees looking for a hobby where they can make a few extra bucks. Their skill level will vary and they may require more training to get up to speed with year-round employees.

Finding and training new staff year in and year out seems like a lot of time, effort, and money to put into an arrangement that is so short-lived. Wouldn’t it be great if you could learn how to retain employees for seasonal work year after year?

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Employee Recruitment is Key: The Right Platform can Make all the Difference

We’re not just talking about putting a job post up on a local community board or posting an ad online, we’re talking about finding the right platforms to help you find reliable candidates that can return year after year.

Take a step back and look at your business. What months are considered your high season? Are you a retailer who needs to add a few employees during the holiday rush? Is your restaurant in a coastal community, such as Cape Cod, that’s jammed packed every day of the week during the summer, but padlocks the doors during winter months? Whatever your ‘high season’ is, find a business or industry with the opposite and leverage that as a recruiting platform.

For instance, if your busy season is during the summer, students and teachers are going to be your best resource for finding recurring seasonal employees. Their schedule is as consistent as it gets.

Somewhere between Memorial Day and the official summer solstice, college students return home and parents of high school students are nagging their children to be responsible, earn their keep, and find a job.

While some teachers may get paid over the summer or choose to teach summer school, there are many others that want to earn extra income through other means than their day job. For summer businesses, this creates the perfect storm for finding quality employees that have a high probability of returning to work next year.

If you’re a retailer or other type of business whose season doesn’t fall into the summer months, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of other ‘opposite industries’ for you to explore; you just need to be a little more creative.

If your business is located in a cold weather state or one that experiences seasons other than summer, lifeguards, and theme park employees are great groups to consider for seasonal employment. If your business operates in a state where summer is year-round, chances are there’s an awful lot of retiree snowbirds that take up residence during ‘winter’ that want to supplement their income.

Since you can only offer employment for a few months or weeks out of the year, finding people with an opposite schedule is going to greatly increase your chances of retention.

2. Be Appreciative: Seasonal Doesn’t Mean Less.

This goes back to the golden rule of ‘treat others how you want to be treated.’ Treat your seasonal employees just like your year-round employees.

Make sure they receive the proper training and have the right tools to be successful at their job. Let them know how greatly you appreciate them and all they do for your business during the busiest days of the year.

3. Be Advantageous and Offer Incentives: Make them want to come Back

Building off appreciation, if you have a valuable seasonal employee, don’t be afraid to offer them incentives for coming back next year. A boost in the wallet is always a great incentive. According to research, the leading reason employees stay or leave an organization is because of compensation.

You can also offer incentives in other ways such as a discount (or a bigger discount if you’re already offing one) on your products and services.

However, no amount of money is going to make an employee come back to a seasonal job that has a toxic environment or poor culture. Create a culture that is well organized, but fun and engaging. As an employer you want to be desirable; you want employees to want you.

4. Stay in Touch: Year-Round Communication Keeps Seasonal Employees Engaged

We all know the old saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Nothing could be truer for seasonal employees – especially if you’re business is closed during the offseason. Once your employees go home and you lock your doors for the year, it’s easy to ‘forget’ about each other.

Keeping the lines of communication open throughout the year and checking in periodically is a great way for employees to feel appreciated (#2) and help build that desirable culture (#3).

5. Ask Them: You’ll Never get what you want if you don’t ask

Last but not least, simply ask them. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask. Don’t let a good employee get away simply because you never asked them to stay.

While the season may be over, maybe they’d be willing to work for you on a per diem or on-call basis. Which brings us back the previous point of staying in touch. If a regular employee calls out or needs coverage for a vacation, you can message your seasonal employee and see if they can fill in.

Recruiting seasonal workers is a tough business. It takes money and resources to manage all the extra activity that goes along with it. Now that you know how to retain employees for seasonal employment, you’ve got a lot more time and money to spend on other areas of your business.

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