Tackling Seasonal Staffing: 5 Options
If your business is highly seasonal, you know the dilemma: it’s tough to find enough of the right people to get the seasonal work done. You have to find ‘em, train ‘em, and manage ‘em. Then you have to let ‘em go. The one advantage you have is knowing when the peak season is coming. You CAN plan for it. And there are a number of different ways for you to work through the dilemma. Here are a few different options.
Option 1: Use Returning Staff
The ideal solution to the seasonal staffing dilemma is to find staff that simply want to work the few months of the year that you need them and then happily leave when the peak is over, returning when you need them again next year. They will likely not need a full training period, but only a refresher and can hit the ground running quickly. There’s no reason they can’t work side-by-side with employees you’ve recruited from other places. For that matter, they don’t necessarily have to be full-timers, either; many people are looking for a second job at the same time every year, especially before the holidays. So your first step in solving your seasonal problems is to call the people who helped you solve it last year.
Option 2: Shared Staff Arrangements
Odds are yours isn’t the only seasonal business in your area. If you can find another business whose seasonality pattern is different than yours, and you may find a great source of seasonal workers ready to step into your positions. For example, big home improvement retailers, such as Lowes and Home Depot, traditionally bring in more workers in the spring and fall. Lots of other retail businesses heavy up for the holiday season. The easiest thing to do is to go to these businesses directly to see if they will give you access to their seasonal employees. It can be a win for everybody. If you find the right sort of business and are willing to think outside the box, you may even be able to work out some sort of salary sharing arrangement.
Option 3: Call a Local Staffing Agency
This may be the most efficient solution—simply pick up the phone and call a staffing firm that specializes in providing the types of employees you need. They should have a ready pool of full- and part-timers. If you need more than they have, they will handle all the recruitment hassles and costs. You can create an “in-sourcing” arrangement, in which the agency handles all the recruitment, screening and hiring. In some cases, the staffing firm will even handle training and—possibly—supervision. Since your seasonal needs will be about the same every year, the contract staffing agency can plan for it—you don’t have to.
Option 4: Contact a Non-Traditional Staffing Agency
Some staffing agencies may not be in your local area, but can supply staff on an as-needed basis. If your seasonal staff doesn’t have to be on-site (customer service reps, for example) companies like Willow CSN or Alpine Access have a network of workers who primarily work from home. These workers are independent contractors with the agency serving as a broker for their services. They can generally be trained quickly and can be available for whatever length of service your company requires.
Option 5: Outsource
Maybe your seasonal work output could be handled entirely by another company at another location. Because you don’t have to supply all the resources, outsourcing the work could be a very cost-effective option. Although you would have to monitor quality, of course, the outsourcer bears responsibility for the product or service, not to mention all the staffing demands.