For restaurant and hospitality businesses, the winter season means ramping up staff to handle the holiday rush. Hiring is hard in general, but when it’s the seasonal sort, things can go bad fast. So, we put together an easy guide that will help lighten the load.

Use prior year sales and current volume to plan ahead

To ensure a successful holiday season, carefully consider what your company’s needs will be in the weeks and months ahead.

Do this by comparing last year’s numbers to current data while taking into account growth and upcoming specials.

Start by reviewing your previous year’s traction prior to and throughout the winter months to give you a sort of baseline. Then compare it to the current year’s highlights that could impact your anticipated volume such as reservations, sales, events, social media presence, press, etc. Another aspect to take into account are any holiday promotions, events, and campaigns that may drive volume in the coming months.

Marry the data you gathered to plan ahead for potential gaps in coverage, departments, jobs, and days of week/times of day. This will then give you the information you need to successfully hire additional staff for the season.

Be diligent and detailed while hiring for the season

When managers, operators, and owners approach seasonal hiring as just a temporary adjustment, there is often little consideration given to the long-term effects this will have on the company, permanent employees, and customers. Although the positions and those filling them may indeed be temporary, making hiring decisions on the fly rarely works out well.

With coverage needs thoroughly identified, job descriptions and postings can be very specific and detailed in terms of the experience, qualifications, and skills required for each role you need to fill.

This helps to ensure that applicants are aware of your needs and if they are a match. This will inevitably lead to higher quality applicants thereby making it significantly easier on you and your hiring staff when making the final decisions.

When it comes time to actually hire, don’t be hasty in the decision. To be confident that your seasonal employees will only help your cause, not hurt it, get all the facts before making the call. As you would with permanent employees, check that their experience, skill-set, and personality are appropriate for the position and your company. It can be hard to do all this in the limited time you have to hire, so use all of the resources available to you.

Ensure fair treatment of seasonal talent

As the holidays approach and volume starts ramping up, it can be easy for both managers and long-term employees to get caught in the storm and lose sight of the fact that quality customer experiences are an outcome of employee experience, including those of seasonal employees. If seasonal hires are treated like machines and given little respect by superiors and coworkers, performance and profitability will suffer.

When employees are treated fairly, they can better focus on performing well on the job.

Avoid this by treating seasonal employees with the same care as their non-seasonal counterparts. To do so, cultivate a positive culture and implement the appropriate systems and solutions that acknowledge the importance respect in the workplace. This includes ensuring that permanent staff of all levels give the same support to seasonal employees as they would to each other, properly scheduling all staff as to allow for maintained work-life balance through the busy season, and being consistent in regard to managing the changes that come with the seasonal nature of the industry.

Think of the seasonal employee as a long-term investment

You’ve done all this great work in sourcing additional talent for the season, so don’t let it go to waste. Be deliberate about keeping in touch with your seasonal hires so that you can recruit them in following years, or, if the situation arises, you can hire them permanently in the future.

A great way to establish continued communication is by having an exit interview of sorts.

It doesn’t have to be formal, just a way to initiate a dialogue. Provide feedback on performance and ask for it in return. Inquire about their interests and potential availability in the future. If nothing else, it will reinforce the positive experience they had while working for you, which is the impression they’ll share with their communities and networks. It’s great press!