Seasonal holiday jobs: 5 tips for hiring for the holidays

Seasonal holiday jobs: 5 tips for hiring for the holidays

Amy Beardsley
By Amy Beardsley
Oct 16, 2023
5 min read
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Hiring for seasonal holiday jobs makes sense for a lot of small business owners. You may not need to hire full-time or part-time staff, and hiring seasonal workers may be all you need to keep operations running during your busiest time of year.

But hiring seasonal workers can be tricky. To help, we’ve put together this guide of pay rates, insurance requirements, benefits and pitfalls of holiday hiring.

Jump ahead to read:

What are seasonal jobs?

Companies hire for seasonal holiday jobs for short periods, whether for part-time, full-time or contracted positions. Seasonal hiring is a specific strategy that businesses employ for more hands on deck during peak times.

How long are seasonal jobs?

A holiday hiring season could be as long as several months. But in the case of a restaurant anticipating a huge crowd for Mother’s Day brunch, the seasonal hiring could be for as little as one day. A season depends on the demand for the product and/or service you offer, and the length of the season.

A business owner may need seasonal hiring to keep up with demand in the spring if they own a lawn care business. A camp could be hiring seasonal staffing only for the summer weeks, plus one or two weeks of preparation and cleanup.

It’s very common for, say, owners of a retail store or a delivery business to seek out holiday hiring for the winter season. But if you sell chocolates and flowers, Valentine’s Day could be an equally busy retail holiday season.

Pay rates and overtime wages for seasonal holiday jobs

Most employment laws also apply to seasonal workers. But there are some differences when it comes to payment and paid leave.

Every state also has different requirements (which may differ from federal laws). Pay rates for most employees must be at least the federal minimum wage, with overtime paid at time and a half. This includes seasonal employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the hourly rate at $7.25. However, many states have higher minimum wage requirements that you must follow. (Find the minimum wage in your state.)

That said, your business might be exempt. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some employees may be exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay provisions, including some seasonal workers depending on employer. Check with a lawyer to verify what your requirements are before hiring for the holidays.

Insurance requirements for hiring seasonal workers

Most states require businesses with at least one employee to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage can help provide coverage for medical expenses, lost wages and other costs related to on-the-job injuries.

Even if your only staff is a seasonal hire, you’ll probably need workers’ comp coverage. Seasonal employees and temporary staff can file a claim if they get hurt on the job.

And here’s the kicker: Seasonal workers often tend to be at higher risk of injury because they get less training and they’re typically less experienced. You want to make sure you have the proper training and protection in place before an accident or injury occurs.

Benefits and disadvantages of hiring for the holidays

Depending on the industry, hiring seasonal employees can help. A few benefits for business owners include:

  • Flexible schedules: Scale up or down quickly by controlling how much staff you hire, when you hire them and how long their employment lasts.
  • Lower employment costs: Eliminate the costs of hiring full-time staff by hiring seasonal employees to work during busy seasons only.
  • “Test-drived” employees: Use the seasonal hiring period to determine if the employee is a good fit for the company.

Some potential downsides of hiring for seasonal holiday jobs include:

  • Workers with less training: Due to the brief period of employment, you’ll have less time to train seasonal employees. It could result in workplace accidents or lower quality work.
  • Lack of loyalty: Seasonal staff don’t have as much skin in the game as regular employees, which could cause productivity and performance to suffer. They could also be more likely to leave mid-season, forcing you to hire again during your busiest time of year.
  • Legal hurdles: Hiring seasonal staff has different laws and requirements. You could face legal issues if you’re not careful.

5 tips for hiring seasonal workers

Seasonal workers can help you fill labor gaps during the busiest times of the year. Here are some helpful tips for finding quality seasonal workers:

  1. Start sooner rather than later: Finding the right seasonal worker could take several weeks. Ramp up efforts quickly to ensure that the staff is trained and ready.
  2. Find applicants looking only for seasonal work: Many candidates aren’t in a position to take on a long-term role. A grad student or stay-at-home parent looking to return to the workforce may be a perfect fit.
  3. Give preference to returning workers: Hiring and training staff is time-consuming. You can be more efficient by giving priority to returning seasonal employees.
  4. Hire for attitude: When interviewing applicants, make sure your seasonal staff is a good fit for your company’s culture. Most seasonal jobs don’t require an elaborate skill set, and hiring for attitude can be a better experience.
  5. Businesses that could benefit the most include:

How NEXT helps small business owners every season

If you do hire staff for seasonal holiday jobs, you must protect yourself, your employees and your business with proper small business insurance.

At NEXT, we’ve got you covered no matter the season. We tailor affordable coverage for more than 1,300 small business professions.

Get a quote, customize your options and buy right-sized insurance online in under 10 minutes.

Get a free instant quote with NEXT.

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Amy Beardsley
About the author

Amy Beardsley, insurance expert and contributing writer at NEXT Insurance, is a content marketing writer who specializes in small business coverage. Leveraging her background in the legal field, Amy brings a deep understanding of laws, regulations, and compliance requirements to her work. As a content marketing writer since 2016, she has contributed to publications like Legal & General, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, Insurify, and NerdWallet. Her work has also appeared in CNBC, Kiplinger, and US News. When she’s not writing, Amy enjoys playing cards with her family and experimenting with new recipes.

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