For many small businesses, the ups and downs of seasonal supply and demand make it impractical to maintain a consistent payroll throughout the year. Hiring temporary help is a cost-effective strategy for managing the extra workload during periods of high demand and relieving the strain on full-time staff. In order to get the best results, here are some things to keep in mind when hiring seasonal employees:

Start yesterday.

It is important to start the hiring process well before your business reaches peak season. With unemployment rates lower than they have been in years, you may not have a limitless pool of applicants to choose from. If you wait too long to start looking, your competitors may hire the most qualified talent before you do. You will also need adequate time to train your seasonal staff and allow them to get up to speed.

One way to avoid falling behind is to put a hiring strategy in place. Plan to advertise open positions as early as 3 to 4 months in advance of your high season in order to get a jump on competitors. If you are looking to have summer staff on board by the end of this month, ideally you should have begun your recruiting efforts in February. If your busiest months are November and December, posting employment opportunities in September or October will help ensure that you have enough staff to help with sales, customer service, or marketing during the year-end holidays.

Determine whether you need an employee or a contractor.

Depending on the type of business you run, you may have a choice between hiring employees or independent contractors. A worker’s status is typically dictated by the amount of control the employer has over the individual’s daily tasks, as well as the worker’s overall contributions to the business.

In seasonal positions, employees generally cost more because they are covered by a company’s benefits and insurance, but you can manage their hours and workflow. Independent contractors can be more cost-effective because you do not have to provide them with benefits, but you have less control over how and when they work. It is wise to weigh the pros and cons before you begin recruiting.

Small business owners often choose to use working capital financing to cover the expense of hiring and paying temporary employees or contractors. Summit Financial Resources offers a number of options, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, and inventory financing programs, that allow small businesses to harness the cash in their accounts receivable to keep things running smoothly through seasonal ups and downs. To determine if this is a viable option, review your budget and determine what you can afford to pay for temporary staffing. If you come up short, Summit’s working capital financing can help you bridge the gap.

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Design a targeted recruiting strategy.

While traditional recruitment sites are a viable option for attracting seasonal job applicants, they may not always be the most strategic way to connect with the best talent. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have become powerful tools for targeting a specific set of prospects with desirable skills and conveying the transparency and credibility they typically look for in an employer.

Leverage your current social media strategy to market yourself as an employer. Actively engage in conversations on a variety of social platforms, and show that your business has a positive culture and provides opportunities for employees to grow and learn. Seasonal hiring tends to be location-specific, and social media is an ideal platform for finding qualified candidates in your local area.

If you need to hire a sizeable number of seasonal staff, consider hosting a job fair and including appropriate staff. This will increase the number of people you can screen in a short period of time and double as a team-building opportunity. Job fairs also benefit applicants who save time scheduling interviews and get a real-time impression of your team and your business.

Do your due diligence.

Although you may be hiring much faster than if you were looking to fill a key full-time position, vetting seasonal workers is just as important as when you are hiring permanent employees. Take the time to carefully examine each applicant’s resume and references and, if necessary, conduct a background check. During the interview, present a variety of scenarios to find out how the candidate may respond in different situations. Failing to adequately screen your seasonal hires upfront can end up costing you in the long run as a result of lost time and productivity.

Don’t skimp on training.

Once you hire the best temporary employees for your business, you need to ensure they contribute positively to your success. Seasonal workers are often brought on at the busiest times of the year and expected to perform at the highest level. It’s important to remember that new hires need adequate training to make sure they understand their responsibilities and do the best job possible, even if they will be employed for just a few months. Shortchanging seasonal staff may lead to low morale, poor performance, or high turnover rates, none of which is good for your small business.

Check your insurance coverage.

Although you may assume all of your workers are automatically covered by your existing insurance policy, you might require additional insurance for part-time seasonal help. Speak with your insurance agent about the types of workers you plan to hire, including part-time employees, paid interns, and volunteers, and make sure you are well versed in local labor laws. Depending on their status, certain employees may not be covered by your workers’ compensation policy, so you will need to research the proper steps to take if they are injured on the job.

Cultivate positive relationships.

Seasonal employees interact with your customers, promote your products and services, and serve as ambassadors for your brand. Investing the time and effort in building a positive relationship between your business and your seasonal staff can pay significant dividends down the road.

When hiring seasonal staff, do not overlook the importance of making sure they are a fit with your company culture. Look for candidates who are not only able to do the job, but also understand your values and business goals. Keep in mind that successful temporary hires may return to your business next season, become customers, and/or be good referral sources in the future. Therefore, make a point of showing them you value their hard work, and include them in company events and team-building efforts during their time with the organization.

When the season comes to an end, have a process in place that allows departing staff to give feedback. Holding exit interviews will provide valuable information on how to improve the experience for future employees and offers the opportunity to recruit proven talent for your next busy season.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.