As a small business owner, you may need more workers during certain periods. But as you know, it’s not always so easy to find responsible and capable team members. This is especially true when hiring people who know they’ll only be with you for a short period of time. Let’s examine how to find and onboard productive seasonal workers. We’ll also highlight common mistakes to avoid when hiring seasonal help. 




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What is Seasonal Employment? 

A seasonal employee is a temporary worker who isn’t on your year-round payroll. This temporary worker may be full-time or part-time during their employment term. Industries that typically hire seasonal workers are: 

  • Retail shops  

  • Amusement parks 

  • Summer camps 

  • Ski lodges 

  • Vacation resorts 

  • Delivery drivers 

  • Tax preparation services 

  • Warehouse workers 

  • Tour guides 

  • Customer service 


Best Ways to Recruit Seasonal Employees 

Be sure to get your seasonal work opportunity in front of these groups that typically fill these positions: 

  • College students’ home on winter or summer break 

  • Retirees 

  • Independent contractors/Gig workers 

  • High school students on winter or summer break 

  • Teachers on summer break 

For example, when I was a high school student, on summer break, I worked at a laboratory that needed extra help. They advertised the position in my high school newspaper. As another example, I know a high school history teacher who works as a lifeguard each summer at a day camp. The payoff? She gets a major discount for her children at the camp. Advertise your seasonal job openings where these people are likely to see them: 

  • Job sites 

  • Your social media 

  • Your website 

  • In your physical location, if you have one 

  • Recruiting events 


Leverage This Forgotten Tool 

But your secret weapon to hiring seasonal employees may be employee referrals. Offer your current employees a sizable financial incentive for each person they recommend who ultimately gets hired. The benefits of this approach are: 

  • Reward current employees for helping the team 

  • Giving teammates an opportunity to recruit their friends, which could make their job more enjoyable 

  • It’s a cost-effective way to market a job opening  


Beat The Competition at Attracting the Best Seasonal Employees with These Tactics 

1. Start recruiting for seasonal employees before your competition  

Not only does this get their attention, but if you hire early, it allows you to train workers early so your people are ready to hit the ground running. 


2. Tap into referral networks 

As mentioned earlier, incentivize your employees to recommend folks who can help your organization. But go further. Make it known to your friends, family, and customers that you are looking for seasonal workers, and you’re happy to give them a bounty for anyone you hire. Remember, while your customers may not want to work for you, they’ll likely have someone they know who would. Properly incentivized, they will advocate for you to their family and friends. 

For instance, I may not want to be a counselor for a summer camp, but my teenage nephew would! Yet he doesn’t know about this opportunity. And if my nephew isn’t qualified, you can imagine that one of his many friends and acquaintances would be. You can reward referrals with money or experience or a significant discount at your business. 


3. Recruit your fans 

Your best customers are fans. They love your brand. There’s no one better to work for you or advocate for you than people who believe in you. Let your best customers know that you’re looking for seasonal help. Recruiting employees is a form of marketing. It’s not a time to be shy. Again, even if your customers aren’t right for the seasonal position, they can introduce you to a friend of a friend or a family member. 


4. Show seasonal workers the money 

Unless you’re a charity, remember that workers are trading their time, energy, and talent for money. It’s capitalism. While you certainly don’t want to overpay, be aware of the going rate for seasonal workers in your field. You may be able to offer a lower pay rate if you let applicants know about compelling perks and discounts that you’ll make available to them. 

If you offer a competitive wage, you’re also more likely to have these seasonal employees come back to you next year. This saves you on advertising costs and training costs when you have a need next season. It also improves your employer brand. Your company can gain a reputation as a place that pays well and treats your employees well. Seasonal workers will come to you instead of you having to pay money to reach out to potential applicants. 


5. Select seasonal employees wisely 

It can be tempting to hire whoever comes your way. Afterall, you do need to fill these positions as soon as possible. But beware of this common pitfall. There’s a business axiom, “Hire the heart. Train the brain.” In other words, find people with an enthusiastic attitude who are open to coaching and are fast learners.  

The opposite approach would be to hire people who are clearly skilled but seem jaded and are likely to infect your team with a poor attitude. Ask questions in the interview to assess their attitude towards working with your team. Sample inquiries include: 

  • Tell me about a time when you were frustrated with a customer or teammate. What did you do? 

  • How do you feel about working with a team? 

  • What motivates you to perform at your best? 


6. Treat seasonal employees like year-round employees 

Just because someone is only with your organization for a few weeks, or a few months doesn’t mean you can treat them like high school students would treat a substitute teacher! You’re hiring seasonal employees because, as a group, they’re essential to your success. So, treat them this way by: 

  • Providing proper training 

  • Communicating expectations 

  • Addressing problems with constructive feedback 

  • Giving positive feedback  

7.  Next season’s workers are found this season 

There are reports that it costs 100% to 200% of the salary to replace an employee! As a business owner, this makes sense because you already know how expensive it is to gain a new customer compared to keeping a current customer. It’s crucial to keep your seasonal employees satisfied, so they come back next year. Wouldn’t it be outstanding if you had at least a few solid folks who you knew would work for you each season?  


You can build these relationships by treating your seasonal employees like you would your best customers. Treat seasonal employees like second-rate employees, and you’ll lose them and be forced to scramble year after year. Treating seasonal employees (or any employee for that matter!) well will: 

  • Increase productivity 

  • Decrease the likelihood of discrimination claims 

  • Improve your reputation as an employer, making it easier to hire 

  • Increase retention 


Seasonal Employment Compliance 

Hiring seasonal employees can help your business serve customers during your busy periods. But you must also stay compliant with laws and regulations. 


Worker Classification 

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees are classified as seasonal when: 

  • The job duration is six months or less 

  • The employment period begins at around the same time every year 

Here’s what to know about legal issues with seasonal employees. Or consult an ACA expert at Asure to learn more.  


Minimum Wage 

Seasonal workers are entitled to federal, state, or local minimum wage. They must be paid whichever of those wage guarantees is the highest. 


Overtime Pay 

Seasonal employees are classified as non-exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and are typically entitled to overtime pay. The law states this is one and a half times their regular pay rate if they work more than 40-hours in a single workweek. State wage laws may differ. To classify a seasonal worker, or any worker, as exempt from overtime pay, they must: 

  • Be paid on a salary basis at generally not less than $684 a week 

  • Perform certain duties that are exempt, including executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales 


There are many more nuances to these rules. To learn more, you can reach out to an Asure HR expert versed in employment regulations


Youth Employment 

When hiring people under the age of 18, your business will need to comply with federal, state, and local laws for minors. The FLSA mandates that children younger than 16 may only work up to 3 hours on school days and up to 18 hours during any school week. And under federal law, businesses must not employ people under 18 years of age in occupations deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Some of these hazardous occupations include: 

  • Manufacturing and storing of explosives 

  • Coal mining 

  • Forest fire fighting and fire prevention, timber tract management, forestry services, logging, and sawmill occupations 

  • Power-driven woodworking machines 

  • Exposure to radioactive substances 



Finding and recruiting the best seasonal employees for your small business requires strategic planning and implementation. You can absolutely attract capable and responsible people who will contribute to your organization’s success. First, target the right groups for seasonal employment. Some examples include college students on break, retirees, independent contractors, high school students, and teachers.  

Advertise your job openings on various platforms such as job sites, social media, your website, physical locations, and recruiting events. Harness the power of employee referrals by offering incentives to your current staff for recommending potential hires. To outshine your competition in attracting seasonal workers, start recruiting early and tap into referral networks beyond your employees. Engage with your friends, family, and customers, as they might have suitable candidates or connections. Your loyal customers can be valuable advocates for your business! 


When it comes to compensation, know the going rate for seasonal workers in your industry. While you don’t need to overpay, offering a competitive wage increases the likelihood of attracting quality employees and encourages their return in subsequent seasons. Highlight additional perks and discounts to make your offer more attractive.  


During the hiring process, prioritize attitude over skills. Look for candidates who are enthusiastic, open to coaching, and quick learners. Asking targeted interview questions can help gauge their teamwork mindset and motivation. Remember that treating seasonal employees with respect and providing proper training, clear communication, constructive feedback, and positive reinforcement is essential for their productivity and satisfaction. 


Nurturing long-term relationships with seasonal workers can benefit your business. By treating temporary workers well and making them feel valued, you increase the chances of them returning in future seasons. These satisfied employees can become a reliable pool of talent, reducing the need for extensive recruitment efforts each year. 


Finally, ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations. Understand the classifications for seasonal employees, minimum wage requirements, overtime pay eligibility, and youth employment restrictions. Consult with experts in employment regulations, such as Asure, to navigate these complexities and maintain legal compliance. 


By implementing these strategies, you can effectively find and recruit the best seasonal employees for your small business, creating a positive and productive work environment during peak periods and contributing to your overall success. 


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