Holiday Help: Seven Tips for Hiring Rock Star Seasonal Staff

Written by Kristi Turner, CMO of Compeat for Modern Restaurant Management

Kristi Turner, CMOThe holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and consumers will soon be heading out in droves to snatch up great bargains on must-have gifts. With the strong economy and unemployment at an eight-year low, forecasters are expecting a busy and lucrative holiday season.

For restaurants, it’s a perfect opportunity to cash in on the crowds. With shoppers out and about, plus family and friends getting together to celebrate, the holiday season can mean a big boost to your bottom line.

But, the added business can also put a major strain on your current staff and cause longer wait times for seating and food service. Overwhelmed staff and an extended wait can turn patrons off to your establishment, which might impact the likelihood that they’ll return after the seasonal spike is over.

Instead, hiring additional seasonal staff can help you manage the crowds and give diners a pleasant experience that will keep them coming back throughout the year. And even though they may be temporary, hiring the right staff is important—you don’t want just any warm body to fill the space. Plus, given the healthy job market this year, it could be tougher than ever to find great seasonal help. Here are seven tips for hiring rock star seasonal staff:

Assess Your Needs

Get a firm grasp on the positions/roles and what shifts you’ll need to cover. Hiring experienced help in those specific areas will ease the learning curve and help them to get ramped up to full efficiency quicker.

Ask for Recommendations

Your current staff could be a great resource for finding new recruits. Ask if they have friends or family members who might be looking for seasonal work. There’s a good chance your staff member will give them an idea of what the job entails, so they’ll know what’s expected before they even apply.

Tap into Schools and Local Colleges

Seasonal jobs are a great fit for students, as well as teachers and staff who may have some downtime or be looking for some extra spending money for the holidays. Post ads or host a job fair on campus, if possible, and conduct on-site interviews to speed up the hiring process.

Stick to Your Full-Time Standards

You want staff who are dependable, willing to work hard and flexible, and who fit with your restaurant’s culture in order to deliver the experience your customers expect. Don’t be tempted to relax those standards for seasonal help, just because they’re temporary. You need them to deliver the same experience as your full-time team. Plus, you never know when a temporary employee may decide to stick around full-time. Adhering to your full-time standards will ensure a much better fit both now and in the long-run.

Don’t Skip the Background Check

In the rush to get staff on the floor fast, it might be tempting to skip this step, especially if the new hire was a referral from a current employee. However, there is always the risk that a new employee may not treat your businesses with the right level of respect, putting you at the risk of theft or other misconduct. Just do the background and reference checks. You’ll sleep better at night.

Adhere to the Employer ‘Golden Rule’

Treat your seasonal employees as you would treat your permanent staff. Guidelines for human resources and many state laws require that temporary workers receive the same benefits and treatment as full-time staff. Resist the temptation to cut corners, otherwise you could put your business at risk.

Keep in Touch

Once the rush is over and it’s time to say goodbye to seasonal staff—assuming they’ve been an asset to your team—keep their contact information on file for future use. Should the need arise again, you’ll save time and effort in hiring people who have already proven to be great seasonal employees. For them, it could be the perfect arrangement—a supplement to a full-time job, for example—and for you it means they’re already trained and ready to go when needed.

Hiring seasonal help is a smart, efficient way to ensure your customers get the best possible dining experience, despite it being the busiest time of year. With the right level of staffing and service delivery, the holidays are a great opportunity to turn seasonal guests into year-round regulars by giving them an experience they’ll want to return for again and again.

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