How to Hire Reliable Summer Employees

Want a super summer staff? Follow these tips for getting, and keeping, better seasonal help.
young summer barista
The promise of a job next summer and perhaps even a staff position one day may be the lure that tempts some young adults.(Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

Does your business peak in summer? If so, you’ll need more hands on deck. But finding reliable seasonal help can be tricky.

With a dearth of available young adults to hire (thanks to factors like early college start dates, summer school, and an increase in community service work and unpaid internships) and plenty of companies looking for summer help, you’ll need to be aggressive to find and attract the best talent.

Here, tips for rolling out the red carpet for the best and brightest.

Offer perks

“You can offer incentives to temporary employees, like discounts,” said Jared Saltz, a human resources coordinator and consultant. “For example, if you are a travel company, you can offer discounts on travel. A perk would be anything attractive to keeping staff.”

Angela Elder, vice president of certification at National Retail Federation, concurred. “Depending on the business, employee discounts are often very appreciated.”

Offering training is also attractive, especially to people who are looking to gain more hands-on experience in the working world. “Training can be an incentive itself,” said Saltz.

Elder added, “Consider an informal mentorship program, so younger talent have someone they can go to for questions, input, advice, and to learn more about the business as a whole versus just the job area they’ve been assigned.”

Offer room for growth

The promise of a job next summer and perhaps even a staff position one day may be the lure that tempts some young adults.

“Students move onto full-time jobs. If you have the availability for growth, that is what people are looking for,” said Saltz.

Ask yourself whether you like the person enough, and whether they have or could acquire the skill set you need, to keep them on in a more permanent position.

Be an employer of choice

Providing a positive and respectful environment and reliable work will help keep seasonal staff returning.

“Reliability is a big thing for college students, especially if they are getting income,” said Saltz. “They like the idea that if they can work at a place this summer, they can work there next summer.” When you make communication, teamwork and training a priority, students will want to continue working with you.

Extend a warm welcome

“Make employees feel like they are part of a community,” said Elder. “Have some organized activities for them to participate in, such as a pizza Friday — activities that involve free food are usually big hits, especially with younger talent.”

Maintain a database, and work the network

As employees leave at the end of the summer, hand out a short survey or conduct an exit interview to figure out who would want to return next year. “You would ask on the application, ‘Do you want to be contacted for the next season,’ and ask for their reasons why or why not,” said Saltz.

If the answer is no, pay attention to the explanation to see if you should modify the employment experience in some way next summer.

Create a database of the employees you hired, and keep in touch with the ones you liked throughout the year so you and your business stay top-of-mind as the next summer season approaches.

Perhaps most important, ask all departing summer employees whose work you valued to spread the word for next summer. “Even if this talent doesn’t come back the following year, their word of mouth goes a long way in getting others to consider working there,” said Elder.

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