Hiring Seasonal Employees: Best Practices For Managing Staffing Needs in Cyclical Industries

young interviewee shaking hands with interviewer for seasonal job

These days, finding the right workers, training them, and ensuring they are ready to hit the ground running is a daunting task for most hiring managers.

But to do it in cyclical industries like construction, landscaping, and food production? Talk about an added layer (or five) of frustration to an already stressful hiring process.

Every year around the same time, your stress levels skyrocket knowing that within just a few weeks, the demand for your company’s services will explode, and you’ll need to quickly ramp up staff to meet the influx of new projects. Just the thought of finding reliable and skilled seasonal employees makes your brow sweat.

This busy season could last anywhere from one month to several months and is often dependent on the weather or supply chain. Not surprisingly, your personal stock of acid-reflux tablets, pain-relief pills, and energy drinks increases for the same amount of time.

So when fluctuating demand, tight project deadlines, and skill shortages threaten to disrupt productivity and profitability, what’s a hiring manager to do?

You use this guide to plan effective strategies for optimizing your staffing levels and stay ahead in a dynamic market. Let’s get started.

Best Practices When Hiring Seasonal Employees

manufacturing worker cross training coworker

Forecasting and Planning

Accurate demand forecasting and workforce planning are crucial. Use historical data and market trends to predict staffing needs and plan your pipeline accordingly. Workforce management software tools can help streamline this process.

Example: Seed Manufacturing Company

Your grass seed manufacturing company faces seasonal peaks during planting and harvesting times. By analyzing data from previous years, your company can plan for these peaks in advance.

Implementing workforce management software like Kronos Workforce Central can help analyze past data, forecast the busiest times, schedule employee shifts, and track attendance. This ensures you have enough workers to meet demand without overstaffing during slower periods, improving efficiency and reducing labor costs.

Cross-Training Employees

Cross-training employees to handle multiple roles can help maintain productivity during peak times. This allows your company to easily shift workers to where they are most needed when demand spikes.

Example: Food Manufacturing Plant

In your manufacturing plant, certain production lines might only operate at full capacity during specific seasons. For example, during the holiday season a candy manufacturing plant might need more workers on the chocolate line than on the hard candy line.

Having employees who are trained to handle both types of production allows for flexibility and ensures that the plant can meet seasonal demand, potentially without hiring additional temporary staff.

female construction worker arriving to work

Flexible Scheduling

Implementing flexible work schedules allows you to adjust your workforce based on current needs. Offering part-time or temporary seasonal jobs can attract a broader pool of candidates willing to work during peak periods.

Example: Landscaping & Grounds Crew

Your landscaping company experiences high demand in the spring and summer but significantly less work during the fall and winter. By offering flexible scheduling options, such as part-time or seasonal positions, your company can attract a diverse range of workers who may not be available for full-time roles but are willing to work during peak seasons.

For instance, students who are available in the summer or retirees looking for part-time work can fill these roles. This approach not only helps manage the workload during busy seasons but also builds a pool of reliable workers who can return year after year, reducing the need for constant recruitment.

Pay Differentials

By providing a higher wage during peak seasons, you demonstrate recognition of the increased demands on your employees and their valuable contribution to your organization’s success.

In a competitive job market, especially when big box companies are offering premium pay for seasonal employees, offering a seasonal pay differential can be a powerful candidate attraction tool.

Example: Distribution Center

Your warehouse distribution center often faces a significant increase in workload during the holiday season, ramping up in September and October. To attract and retain the necessary workforce, your company implements a seasonal pay differential.

They offer a $2 per hour increase for all employees working during the peak months of November and December. Additionally, they introduce a completion bonus of $500 for employees (including temporary employees) who work every scheduled shift during this period.

These incentives not only attract a larger pool of seasonal candidates, but also motivate your current employees to maintain consistent attendance and performance during the busiest time of the year.

hiring manager meeting with temporary staffing partner

Get Cyclical with Temporary Staffing Solutions

Temporary staffing solutions can be a game-changer for businesses in cyclical industries. Your company benefits from:

Scalability: Flexible staffing solutions ensure that production can scale up efficiently to meet increased demand without long-term commitments. This ensures you have the right number of employees at all times, reducing costs associated with overstaffing or understaffing.

Cost-Effectiveness: It’s a common misconception that staffing agencies cost more than hiring yourself. But in reality, hiring temporary staff can be more cost-effective since your staffing provider pays all costs related to taxes, benefits, recruiting, training, and other administrative expenses.

Expertise and Resources: Temporary staffing agencies provide access to a pool of skilled, reliable workers for specific roles and industries. Whether you need experienced machine operators or general labor, a staffing agency can help fill those gaps quickly.

Streamlined Hiring Process: Outsourcing the hiring process to a staffing agency allows you to focus on your core business activities, like leading your team to success. Staffing agencies handle everything from job postings to interviews and onboarding — saving you time and reducing administrative burden.

Tailored Staffing Solutions: Staffing agencies can offer custom solutions tailored to your company’s specific needs. Whether you require seasonal workers, project-based staff, or specialized skills for a particular period, agencies can design a staffing plan that aligns perfectly with your operational requirements and budget.

smiling hiring manager who conquered seasonal staffing

Make Seasonal Hiring and Staffing Easier

Navigating staffing needs in cyclical industries requires careful planning and a little bit of strategy. By leveraging best practices such as accurate forecasting, cross-training, flexible scheduling, and pay differentials, you can optimize your workforce and maintain productivity year-round.

When the pressure gets to be too much and the calendar is closing in, remember that temporary staffing solutions offer the flexibility and cost-effectiveness needed to expertly manage fluctuations in demand.

Take a deep breath and don’t let seasonal hiring demands overwhelm you — prepare now to turn your busiest seasons into your most productive ones.

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