Published: May 21, 2019

There might be a certain time of the year when your organization needs to bring a few more hands on deck. What's considered "busy season?" It really depends on the industry in question, as we mentioned in our last seasonal workforce article on payroll best practices. Restaurants and other hospitality businesses typically experience an influx of customers in the summer months. Financial and accounting practices might need to bring on some seasonal professionals during tax season. Meanwhile, retailers are hit with waves of customers in November and December, with Black Friday and the holidays in proximity. According to CNBC, Target planned on hiring 20% more employees in the holiday season of 2018 than they did in the previous year.

No matter your industry, you might be curious about some best practices around hiring seasonal employees. Once you've tackled the recruiting process, the next step is getting these employees up to speed with your business to make their short time with you effective. Just like your year-round staff, it's important that you train and onboard them efficiently. Here are some of our top process and technology tips for onboarding the seasonal workforce you need to handle your busiest time of year:

Hiker helping another climb mountain - onboarding best practices concept

Use your core onboarding process to your advantage

You might not know where to start in getting seasonal employees used to the way your business works. You might be inclined to offer brief, somewhat terse onboarding processes to seasonal employees because they won't be working with you as long as your full-time workers. Regardless of how long they'll be staying with you — weeks or months — it's important that you offer them the right tools for success. You don't need to put them through the same rigorous training process you put your full-time staff through when they first started, but you still need to make them feel well-prepared and motivated to tackle the roles you hired them for.

It's best to repurpose some of the onboarding materials you use for full-time employees but make it more targeted with the specific demands of the season. Go through the onboarding materials you provide to all staff members and transfer over any essential pieces of knowledge you think could be important to someone working for a short period of time at the business. Do seasonal workers need to know the ins and outs of the products and services? Most likely yes. Do they need to know specific details on the company's culture and how it has evolved over the years? Probably not, but you should still think about their cultural fit. More on this later.

Kickstart productivity with a training checklist

No matter how quick your onboarding process will be, make sure you stay organized with a checklist of tasks seasonal employees should be trained on. The best way to figure out exactly what's important for seasonal employees is to speak with the full-time workers in these positions. Who else knows their jobs better than they do? Allow these employees to collaborate on the training materials, adding anything they think would be beneficial for new employees to know. Maybe the business has a specific way of doing things, or a seasoned worker has learned something insightful through trial and error. Add anything to the training checklist that you and the team believe will be beneficial for those working for a short period of time.

A human capital management (HCM) system can help you save time in creating and overseeing training and onboarding checklists. It also allows this information to be shared seamlessly across teams and locations, which is ideal for HR employees overseeing the onboarding of workers in a variety of roles. An online onboarding process allows workers to check off the stages of the training they've completed. Since managers can see what areas seasonal employees are trained in (and what they still need to learn), they have clarity on how far along staff members are in the onboarding process.

Let your team be an organic support system

What better way is there to learn how to do your job than seeing what the pros do and following by example? Pair up seasonal employees with full-time staff members, creating a sort of mentor/mentee structure in which a seasonal worker can ask their mentor for guidance freely and candidly. Since seasonal employees may not be around for long, you may not have the time to set them on the multi-day onboarding track you have planned for full-time workers. Having someone who's been at the company for a while to shadow and reach out to can make up for the brief amount of time spent on official, HR-led onboarding.

Keep an eye out for rising stars

One major reason a lot of people apply for seasonal positions is the potential to join the team as a year-round staff member. When you begin onboarding these individuals, consider some ways you can measure the quality of work these employees are putting forth. HCM software can help managers and HR professionals keep track of how certain workers are doing and how much they've improved since their first day with tangible goals and ongoing manager feedback. You can then use this insight to determine which seasonal employees would make the best fit for full-time employment or show enough promise to factor into your succession plans.

Human capital management for onboarding

Kronos' HCM software can provide HR professionals and managers with the right technology to provide consistent training and onboarding materials to a seasonal workforce. Contact the business leaders at your organization to speak with them about how investing in a HCM platform can streamline the onboarding process, saving time and resources.