Taking on seasonal staff is a must for small businesses in the hospitality sector. Restaurants, hotels, cafés and bistros operating in tourist hotspots see great fluctuations in the amount of trade between the summer and winter months.
Other holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter are busy times as well, so finding part-time, seasonal staff is necessary to cope with the increased workload - especially when it is during these times of year that the majority of profit is made in the industry.
It's crucial that your business capitalises on these opportunities by keeping seasonal staff motivated and their productivity high.
This is no mean feat when you consider that most seasonal workers will be young students whose primary interest is to make a few quid before term starts again.
It is therefore worthwhile exploring the use of financial incentives to keep seasonal workers focused.
Staff discounts, productivity bonuses and time-and-a-half (for particularly busy periods), help keep morale high and build loyalty so that your employees are driven to provide the quality of customer service that you desire.
Capitalise on peak season trade
The key to making the most of these busier periods is having a solid base of reliable seasonal workers who are almost always available during the holiday seasons and who don't require the supervision or training that newly-hired employees would need.
Not having to show new staff the ropes every summer allows your full-time staff to spend more time focusing on your customers rather than babysitting inexperienced employees, providing a much more efficient and productive service.
Form a reliable group of seasonal workers — and keep them
To build a stable base of seasonal staff is no mean feat. Family is a common source of flexible labour as sons, daughters, nieces and nephews are easy to contact and will often have the added incentive to work hard due to your personal relationship with them.
However, employing family can also lead to conflicts that extend beyond the workplace - it's certainly worth considering this risk before jumping ahead.
Generally the most fruitful supply of seasonal staff are students from local schools and colleges, as well as university students between terms. Like any hiring process there will be a mixed bag of candidates and unfortunately, in the hospitality sector, you often don't find out who are the duds and who are the gems until they are thrust into the thick of it.
However, by only giving future shifts to those who have earned them you can easily sift through the deadweight and create a solid core of reliable part-time staff.
To hold onto the good seasonal workers use productivity bonuses and pay-rise incentives to keep them motivated, and host staff meals and parties to integrate them with your full-time employees.
Building good relationships between your seasonal and permanent staff will help create an enjoyable working atmosphere and one that your seasonal workers will be happy to return to.
When term starts again and the students in your workforce return to their studies, offer guaranteed future work to those who perform. If they are assured of hours when the next term ends they will feel appreciated for the work they have done over the last few weeks and will be less likely to explore part-time opportunities elsewhere.
There will inevitably be a turnover in part-time staff that is unavoidable, but if you can keep a solid core of reliable, motivated seasonal workers the transition into these busier periods will be much smoother.
In having returning part-time employees who are fully trained and who do not require the supervision and guidance of others, you will be able to capitalise on the increased trade by providing a better customer service.
Additionally, a well-integrated seasonal workforce that have gelled with your permanent employees, will operate better as a team. If your full-time staff can rely on their part-time colleagues it allows them to concentrate on their own role and, in turn, further increases the overall productivity of your business during critical periods.
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