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Hiring Seasonal Employees For The Holidays And Beyond

icon7 min read

Seasonal hiring is a problematic situation for businesses to navigate. Done right, it can help your business maximize revenue during a busy season. Done wrong, and you're facing a whirlpool of staffing issues that could pull your business down. The task comes with unique challenges and opportunities for HR professionals and hiring managers. 

Whether it's the holiday rush or the summer tourist invasion, seasonal employees are the backbone that helps your business handle peak times. But who exactly are seasonal employees? What do HR managers need to consider when hiring them?

Let's explore how to hire seasonal employees for an upcoming holiday or any season.


What Are Seasonal Employees?

Seasonal employees are individuals hired to meet the temporary staffing needs of a business during peak seasons. These employees are generally not expected to be long-term and are hired for a specific period. For example, retail companies often ramp up staffing during the holiday season, while resorts may seek extra help during summer.


Common Seasonal Jobs

Seasonal employment varies significantly by industry, and the roles you'll need to fill depend on the specific needs of your business during peak times. 

The holiday season often overwhelms many retail businesses, causing them to bring in more workers to help manage the load. In the summer, many farms need workers to help with the harvest season. Tourist locations often have a “busy season” that requires local businesses to scale up their hiring for part of the year.

We’ll break down some common positions needed for these industries, but many others require seasonal workers to handle increased demand at certain times of the year.


Retail: The Holiday Rush 

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for retail, driving a need for various positions to manage increased customer flow and sales. Common roles include:

  • Cashiers: The front line of customer interactions, handling transactions and often gift wrapping.
  • Stock Clerks: Essential for maintaining inventory and ensuring that popular items are readily available.
  • Customer Service Reps: Crucial for handling customer inquiries, resolving issues, and even managing returns after the holiday season.

The holiday season often requires extended hours, so shifts can vary and may include overnight restocking roles. It’s essential to increase staffing to keep up with the increased demand during this season.

Tip: Start your holiday hiring process early, as competition for good candidates is fierce. Consider offering incentives like holiday pay or end-of-season bonuses to attract top talent.


Tourism: The Summer and Winter Peaks

Depending on the location, tourism sectors may need to hire seasonally for the summer or winter months. Positions often include:

  • Housekeepers: To manage increased occupancy rates.
  • Servers: For restaurants and bars with extended hours or seasonal menus.
  • Tour Guides: Particularly important for locations with seasonal attractions, such as ski resorts or summer beach destinations.

Tip: Build partnerships with local educational institutions to tap into a pool of potential seasonal workers who might be on break.


Agriculture: The Harvest Season

Seasonal hiring in agriculture is often determined by harvest times, requiring roles like:

  • Harvest Laborers: To manually pick crops.
  • Equipment Operators: For mechanized forms of harvest and other heavy-duty tasks.

Tip: Utilize local job boards and agricultural associations to find candidates with the necessary skills for these more specialized roles.


Whether it's the holiday rush in retail, peak tourist seasons, or agricultural harvest times, seasonal employees play a crucial role in various industries. Understanding the specific requirements of each season and industry will enable you to make smarter, more targeted hiring decisions. 


The Role of HR in Seasonal Hiring

For HR professionals, seasonal hiring is an intricate dance of speed, efficiency, and precision. It requires a different set of tactics compared to regular hiring, with an added layer of complexity. HR has a significant role in making seasonal hiring successful, from fine-tuning job descriptions to speedy yet thorough vetting processes.

How Seasonal Employment Affects HR

HR departments face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to seasonal hiring. While the primary focus is on rapid and effective recruitment, HR must also consider training, benefits, and compliance. The added pressure of time makes it challenging to find the right candidates without compromising quality.


Benefits of Integrated Payroll Systems

Speed and efficiency are the essence of seasonal employment, and automated payroll systems can be a game-changer. Integrating payroll with other HR functions simplifies the entire lifecycle of a seasonal employee, from onboarding to payment processing. Systems like Fuse offer centralized employee management that makes this whole process seamless.

Bonus Integration: Platforms like Fuse also have integrated applicant tracking systems allowing you to quickly and easily post jobs to multiple job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn. You can even reuse job descriptions for jobs you regularly post (say every holiday season), which makes it much easier to ramp up your hiring when needed.


Navigating the Legal and Benefits Landscape for Seasonal Employees

When hiring seasonal employees, HR managers must be well-versed in the nuances of the legal framework governing this type of employment. While we can’t comment on specific state or local regulations that impact seasonal workers, it’s important to be familiar with all applicable labor laws to ensure compliance.


Benefits and Entitlements

By law, seasonal employees usually have different entitlements than full-time employees. This means they often miss out on benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. However, savvy HR managers see this as an opportunity rather than a limitation. Offering a tailored benefits package—even if it's just prorated health plans or limited paid time-off—can be an attractive incentive for high-quality candidates.


Unemployment and Overtime Considerations

The question of unemployment benefits for seasonal employees is complex and largely dependent on state laws. Generally, seasonal workers do not qualify for unemployment benefits unless they meet specific requirements, which should be clearly understood and communicated during the hiring process.

Overtime and holiday pay are other grey areas that HR managers need to clarify. Policies on these issues can vary by jurisdiction and even by the nature of the work. It's essential to outline these in employment contracts, specifying under what conditions seasonal employees are eligible for such pay. Transparency upfront can prevent misunderstandings and disputes down the line.

Navigating seasonal employees' legal and benefits landscape requires a well-rounded strategy that balances compliance with competitive incentives. An integrated HR system like Fuse can help you manage these complexities more effectively, allowing you to focus on finding the best talent for your seasonal needs.


Hiring Seasonal Employees

When hiring seasonal employees, your timing and methods are crucial for securing the best talent. It comes down to three major steps: planning, sourcing, and hiring.



The success of seasonal hiring lies in proactive planning. Avoid a reactive approach, which can lead to poor hiring decisions made in a rush. Instead, lay the groundwork at least 2-3 months before the start of the season by creating a hiring timeline that outlines specific milestones and deadlines.

Tip: Craft a comprehensive hiring timeline that charts every stage of the process, from advertising openings to completing onboarding. Use this timeline as a roadmap, ensuring that every HR team member knows their role and deadlines.



While general job boards can be helpful, local sources offer a distinct advantage when hiring seasonal staff. Local hires usually require less time for onboarding and can begin contributing quickly. Additionally, don't underestimate the value of reaching out to former seasonal employees who already understand your operations and can hit the ground running.


  • Use local job boards and community events to capture local talent. 
  • Maintain a database of past seasonal employees and make it a habit to reach out before each peak season.



The time-sensitive nature of seasonal hiring might tempt you to cut corners during the interviewing and onboarding stages. However, doing so can cost you in the long run. Utilize technology to streamline these steps without sacrificing the quality of your hires. Tools like video interviews can speed up the vetting process, and a thorough yet efficient onboarding program ensures new hires are ready from day one.



  • Leverage video interviews and other tech tools to fast-track the hiring process. 
  • Ensure the onboarding is comprehensive but time-efficient, covering all necessary procedures and compliance training.
  • Use our interview checklist


Leveraging Technology for Seamless Hiring

Since seasonal hiring often involves a tight schedule and a high volume of candidates, integrating technology into your process can be a significant advantage. An all-in-one HR system like Fuse centralizes all hiring tasks, from tracking applications to onboarding new hires, ensuring a seamless and efficient experience.

Utilize Fuse's all-in-one HR platform to manage your seasonal hiring pipeline, reducing administrative burden and increasing effectiveness.

By combining timely planning, targeted sourcing, and efficient interviewing and onboarding, your seasonal hiring can be a streamlined, effective process that ensures you have the right people in place when you need them most.

The Value of Retention for Seasonal Employees

While seasonal employees may only be with you temporarily, investing in their job satisfaction can yield long-term benefits. Happy seasonal employees are more likely to return for subsequent seasons, reducing the time and resources spent on new hires.



Seasonal employees are an essential component for businesses that experience fluctuations in demand. For HR managers, the seasonal hiring process requires meticulous planning, efficient execution, and compliance with employment laws. Leveraging the capabilities of an all-in-one HR system like Fuse can make this daunting task much more manageable.