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The 3 Keys to Hiring Seasonal Workers When Unemployment Is Below 4%

It’s that most wonderful time of year: the race to staff up with seasonal holiday workers.

Every year, hiring reaches new heights during the holiday season. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that employment surges during the holiday months: “Employment in the retail trade industry typically rises in the final months of the year, a time when businesses expect a surge of holiday customers.”

Hiring in a tight labor market – unemployment remains under 4% – is already intensely competitive. And now employers have to do it even as major employers are adding hundreds of thousands of new jobs: Target aims to hire 125,000 seasonal workers, UPS 100,000, Amazon “tens of thousands,” and more. How can employers, especially small to midsize businesses, find seasonal workers while competing with recruitment efforts from some of the biggest companies in the nation?

First, think outside the box when recruiting.

We’ve previously written about recruitment tactics when faced with staffing shortages, and many of those recommendations apply to this situation, e.g., enticing retirement age workers to return to the workforce temporarily. Also be sure to avoid the most common mistakes when it comes to hiring. For example, in a labor market like this, it’s critical to remember that that job candidates are also job shoppers. When workers have options, they don’t just have to sell themselves to you; you also need to sell them on your workplace.

Second, make sure you retain those workers through the whole season.

Nothing is worse than thinking you’ve successfully filled a role, only to have it turnover. That risk increases dramatically in tight labor market conditions, because prospective workers have a lot of options. If they’re not happy, they’ll leave. So, consider implementing a few retention strategies. For instance, offer end of season bonuses to seasonal workers who remain for the whole time period. You might also try to offer nice little perks, like free food, flexible scheduling if possible, and so on.

Third, stay compliant with regulations.

Seasonal work introduces some specific compliance challenges. For example, some seasonal businesses – those that operate less than seven months a year – can qualify for exemptions from typical minimum wage and overtime regulations. However, those exemptions do not apply to year-round businesses that simply hire seasonal workers. Indeed, pay close attention to local, state, and federal regulations when it comes to issues around overtime hours, compensation, employing teenagers, and whether or not seasonal workers qualify for benefits like health insurance.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.

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