Running a seasonal business comes with its own unique challenges, in many different areas. One of the most pressing issues for any seasonal business owner is the question of staffing; if you’re only able to offer work for a few months out of the year, you will struggle to retain your employees. It’s tough figuring out how to hire a tour guide every single year, and you will waste time and money training every new recruit from scratch. One way to make the process easier is to retain the employees you already have; it not only decreases your hiring stresses, but it makes your team better overall. Here are a few tips on how to keep your staff around season after season.
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be shocked at the number of business owners who simply haven’t thought of it. Conduct exit interviews at the end of the season and see who is interested in returning next year, and offer them first priority. For those uninterested in coming back, you can find out why; for some it will be due to personal circumstances, but in other cases it may be because you’re not being very competitive in what you can offer—and that will help you improve your benefits and HR policies. For those staff who do want to come back, ask if they’re willing to sign the contract right away, thus giving you an immediate advantage during the next season.
While some employees will want to return because they had a lot of fun at the job, you shouldn’t have to depend on the goodness of their hearts. Offer a higher wage, better benefits, more responsibilities, or other bonuses as incentives for them to return. Workers are more likely to come back if they know they’ll be rewarded for their loyalty, and it shows that you value them as more than just an extra pair of hands.
Keep in touch
A lot can happen in a year, and it’s not enough to sit and hope that your employees will return the same people they were last season. Keep in touch with them periodically throughout the off months, to maintain a presence in their lives and remind them of their commitment. Whether it’s organizing a holiday staff party or just saying a quick ‘Hello’ via email, keeping the communication lines open will make your employees feel like you care and are excited for their return.
You could pay the best wages in the business, but if your company is toxic you are going to see a lot of turnover. People spend a third of their waking hours at their jobs (if they’re full-time), and it’s critically important that they enjoy being there; otherwise, there’s not a lot of incentive to return. You don’t have to be their best friend, but try to create a company culture that is fun, engaging, well-organized, and treats workers like valued members of the team. Remember, your staff is going to have a lot of time to think back on their memories of working with you; the exact pay rate will fade, but their feelings towards you and the job will not. It’d be easy for them to get another, full-time job in the interim; your employees should actively look forward to returning to your company.
Spread the word
If your staff can’t return next season, feel free to ask if they have any family or friends who might be interested or would be a good fit. Your current employees have a feel for both the job requirements and the company culture as a whole, and they’ll be able to assess whether someone they know would thrive in those conditions. Even if you lose that employee, you may take care of your hiring issues by doing this sort of networking.
Seasonal businesses have their own set of unique challenges, but you don’t have to struggle to train brand new workers every year. With some effort, outreach and some seasonal employee benefits, you may create a pool of regular employees who will happily return to be part of your team—and that will improve morale, efficiency, customer interactions, and ultimately your bottom line.