5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Staff

With the holiday season fast-approaching, here are some of the best tips to find, hire and onboard seasonal staff.
5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Staff
October 27, 2022

In the food and hospitality sectors, there are certain times of year that see an influx of business, requiring greater numbers of staff to keep up. The holiday season is one such period; spring, between Easter and Mother’s Day, is another; and summer, between Victoria Day and Labour Day, is a third. For businesses large and small, hiring seasonal – a.k.a. temporary – staff is an effective and cost-saving solution to keep up with the increase in business. 

Why hire temporary staff vs. full-time?

There are many benefits to hiring seasonal staff. First, it saves businesses money. Often for temp work, restaurants and hospitality establishments can hire less experienced staff, requiring a pay rate closer to minimum wage. Students often snap up temporary work as they are off school, especially during the holidays, so minimum wage aligns with their expectations. 

Total compensation also varies with temporary staff as the short-term nature of employment may not require additional perks such as health benefits or RRSP options. 

Hiring seasonal staff also gives establishments the flexibility needed for full-time staff to take time off. Temporary workers can fill the gaps those vacations leave behind, allowing full-time staff to recharge, and limiting overtime from other full-time staff filling in for those shifts.

Tips for hiring seasonal staff

Hiring temporary staff can come with challenges due to the short-term nature of employment. However, these tips for hiring seasonal staff will meet such challenges head on.

1. Plan ahead to identify needs

Food and hospitality businesses should review their seasonal requirements well in advance of when hiring should begin. This includes reviewing sales and occupancy trends for the current year, as well as the prior holiday/spring/summer season in need of staffing. It’s important to examine both current performance and past performance to determine how many staff are needed and in which roles.  

2. Start recruitment early

Typically, six to eight weeks is recommended to recruit for seasonal roles. On average, the hiring process takes 43 days from first application to employee contract signature; however, it is possible to quicken the stages of recruitment, especially if a business has a roster of past seasonal employees expected to be available for another year.

3. Get the word out

In order to obtain sufficient responses to a job posting, it’s critical to ensure visibility. To do so, it’s recommended to post the job description on multiple career and job sites, keeping in mind the target market. Sites like Indeed might be effective, but if the goal is to recruit students, university and college job boards may be a better fit. As well, leverage existing communication channels within the business, such as social media profiles like Instagram and LinkedIn.

Word of mouth can also go a long way. Businesses should advise existing staff of seasonal needs to garner referrals. It can also be helpful to develop a referral incentive program (for example, offering a $50 bonus to staff who refer someone that gets hired) to encourage participation.

Foreign workers may also provide an excellent source of potential hires. On April 4, 2022, the government of Canada announced the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program to meet labour market needs and address shortages as COVID recovery continues. According to the news release from Employment and Social Development Canada, employers within seven sectors with demonstrated labour shortages, such as Food Service, will be allowed to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions for one year. All other employers will be allowed to hire up to 20% of their workforce through the TFW Program for low-wage positions until further notice, an increase from the former 10% cap for many employers. 

4. Provide training in advance

To get the most out of your seasonal workforce, as well as ensure compliance with local government regulations, it’s extremely important to ensure temp staff have the training and certificates required.

Required and recommended courses may vary, depending on the province and type of role, and can include food handling as well as alcohol service training. The Canadian Institute of Food Safety provides nationally-recognized food safety training courses that are valid in all provinces and territories in Canada. Our business training solutions make it easy to train small or large numbers of new employees.

5. Conduct orientation

Although seasonal staff may only be around for a few short weeks or months, it’s important to complete orientation as a business would with any full-time hire. This ensures brand integrity, better business understanding, and therefore, a more effective temporary workforce. Orientation can include introduction to other staff, review of scheduling protocols, menu tasting, and more.

No matter the business model, following these five tips for hiring seasonal staff will ensure a successful holiday season for any food or hospitality establishment. For more information, check out our guide for tips on tackling some of the most common training manager challenges